Accompanied by six current students, I spoke to the Rotary Club of Jackson about the project on July 17, 2017. I focused my speech on YMP's effort to help lead a community-wide effort to reduce youth crime. Here is my speech in its entirety:
Good afternoon, Rotarians, and thank you so much to Neddie Winters for getting me here today. I’m thrilled to be with you to talk about the Mississippi Youth Media Project. I’ve brought a few of this summer’s 29 students with me today: meet Leslyn Smith of Callaway High School; Maggie Jefferis, Chloe Bishop, Sonni Presley and Jeffrey Caliedo of Murrah; and Maisie Brown of Jim Hill.
I’m also thrilled to see the director of the Mississippi FBI here as well. Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze just came from the Youth Media Project where Leslyn and her crime-prevention team interviewed him for their YMP Youth Crime Lab project. He is also the reason I’m here to talk to you about YMP today, as well as the need to provide other opportunities for young people that, in turn, will lower crime in our community.
After Donna gave her YMP presentation at 1 Million Cups, the teens and other participants took over for a Q&A session and discussion of the project so far.
Donna gave a presentation on July 6, 2016 at the Coalesce co-working center in downtown Jackson for the weekly 1 Million Cups meeting. Her "startup" pitch was Youth Media Project—telling the history, the goals, principles and asking for a little help from the audience.
?by Lynne Schneider
YMP Program Manager,
Murrah High School English, Journalism Teacher
Teachers love to teach (most of them). Except in the summer. So what is a teacher doing spending all her summer weekdays in an office in downtown Jackson? With a group of teenagers?!
That’s what I thought, too, when the alarm went off at 6:45 a.m. on June 1. It was the first day of June, and while my family kept on snoring, I started the morning commute to Capital Towers in downtown Jackson. And I wondered what the heck I was doing ... I adore the lazy days of summer. Now, three weeks into the Youth Media Project, I am no longer questioning why I’m here. The students are talented, and they want to be here. They REALLY want to be here. They get a writing assignment or another task assigned, and they do it, every time. And have I mentioned that the office is bright and open, and includes an amazing view of Jackson down below us?
But’s it not just that I’m in a fabulous space and working with the best teenagers in the tri-county area. As a teacher, I know what authentic learning looks like. And authentic learning happens every day in the YMP office. I could list all the Common Core Standards (or College and Career Standards, which is the same thing) that our lessons and the student work include, but it is summer. So let me just tell you that these students are researching every day. They write, and edit, and rewrite, and then edit some more. And then write the next story or blog and start the cycle again.
by Donna Ladd
YMP Program Director, Founder
Yowza! We're just over three weeks into the new Mississippi Youth Media Project, and what a ride it's been. I feel like I'm part of a very special family already, which most of the teens themselves are saying, too. The space, in the old Associated Press offices on the 13th Floor of Capital Towers down the hall from my newspaper Jackson Free Press, is inspiring with expansive views of downtown Jackson and cool furniture provided by Barefield Workplace Solutions. It is the perfect incubator for a creative, high-energy "startup." Starting with the pizza party we held before YMP launched June 1, we've urged the students to think and act as if they are media entrepreneurs starting up a new publication—to bring the nimble energy of doing what it takes to build something special and creative that can, in turn, make the world a better place for young people and others. And, they learn entrepreneurial soft skills to boot.
And this group is super engaged on all levels: I bought boxed-up desk chairs and dropped them off in the YMP newsroom; two of the female students, Kelsee and Maggie, grabbed and started putting them together; a group of the guys had already jumped in and assembled bookcases. When the folks I'd planned to do the video training decided they couldn't do it the way we needed them to, the students themselves pooled their equipment and started shooting video and helping each other: collective mentoring at its best. One of the students, Zaccheus, started quietly shooting and editing what he calls "Day in the Life" videos of students in the project and putting them on social media. They're wonderful, and we'll be posting some of them on this site soon.
By Onelia Hawa
YMP Program Assistant
So, we’re three weeks into the Mississippi Youth Media Project, and I remember looking at the wide-open startup loft space the night before YMP’s first day thinking, “what are we doing?” As a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed start-up newbie, I can still say the “honeymoon” phase hasn’t worn off, and the city view definitely is only a piece of the pie to blame. Like any new program, event or class, attendance takes a sharp turn typically after the first week. The ones who end up sticking through the first seven days are those who end up finding a genuine interest and commitment with whatever it is you have to offer. These are the students changing Jackson and bettering our futures.
I assigned students the task of calling nonprofit organizations as sources for their solutions-oriented journalism stories the first week. The deadpan look on nearly every student’s face was something I should have captured, but shortly afterward, each student moved to his or her designated workspace and researched local organizations. Most students were not initially excited and drifted their gaze to the Standard Life building and city skyline through the windows lining the newsroom. Others became frustrated and were unaware of why both the exercise and nonprofits were important to begin with.
Youth Media Project participants are in the building! This morning started out with some ice-breaking activities and then we rolled right into an Editorial Staff Meeting (this week with a few more people around the table than usual) with Jackson Free Press editor-in-chief Donna Ladd at the helm.
With a target date of June 1, 2016, the Youth Media Project staff (with an assistant from the JFP staff) is working hard to pull the YMP offices together. Perched on the 13th floor of Capitol Towers in downtown Jackson, the YMP office is an open floor plan that used to house the capital city's Associated Press offices.
With views of the Standard Life building, breakout rooms for interviews, podcasting, production work and more, the new YMP office promises to be a great headquarters for learning and creating this summer.