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.
Let’s get something straight; I am not a teacher by trade, a journalist-in-the-making in fact, but solutions-oriented journalism simply boils down to finding solutions to existing problems. Hence the name. I explained how nonprofits are essentially completely underrated and underappreciated, but also how these same organizations are key to developing the communities they aim to serve. Whether these organizations aim to feed their communities, reduce crime, provide educational opportunities or even help those in need find resources, nonprofits are key to understanding the communities we are so quick to label and judge.
Slowly but surely, like any new office staff member, students began narrowing their search down and eventually made their first nerve-wracking call to “real-world” organizations. I remember two students came back beaming with a smile after hiding in office corners avoiding having anyone hear them stutter or see them blush while making their first call. Then it struck me. We’re all here to learn, but even better to make a difference collectively.
To end this on an even better note, although YMP students are “students,” it is so abundantly clear these high-school-age over-achievers are more than their title. These young adults are embarking into their newly found niches and evolving as youth do. I could not be more proud of the Mississippi Youth Media Project—unless our students win a Pulitzer, then maybe.
Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) is a leader in informational broadcasting. MPB has exhibited a commitment to educating and informing Mississippians. MPB has partnered with YMP to lend tech equipment and provide youth engagement and media specialists to train students.
E3, a project of Parents of Public Schools of Jackson (now Ask for More), supported YMP in summers 2016 and 2017 with stipends for students, and other resources.
The Community Foundation of Greater Jackson (now The Community Foundation of Mississippi) is the
fiscal sponsor for E3.
Choice Printing in downtown Jackson is an in-kind sponsor of YMP offering YMP copying and printing services from its Capitol Towers location.
Jackson-based Workplace Solutions by Barefield is a Steelcase authorized dealer offering high-end office furniture and technology solutions. Workplace Solutions has loaned chairs, mobile desks and mobile whiteboards to create a collaborative office for YMP participants.
Jackson-based Fuse.cloud (formerly Broadband Voice) offers Voice-over-IP phone systems, fiber Internet connections and technical services. Fuse.cloud has sponsored phones, VoIP phone service and technical assistance for YMP.