Thursday, June 14, 2012

VOICES Explore Teen Peer Pressures and Media Manipulation

In 2011-2012, VOICES worked in two groups that chose to call themselves "The Peoples VOICE" and "Ambitious VOICES."  After several months of team building, issue identification and media training, the groups chose to focus on media influence and peer pressure as their topics. "The People’s VOICE" created a short film titled Music Media Influences that displays a variety of techniques used by the media to influence its viewers. The students acted out three skits to depict how the media spins and misrepresents music celebrity culture. The skits explored the problem of showing celebrities in the midst of all their success without addressing what it took to get there, using celebrities to promote things that they themselves do not necessarily endorse or believe in, and by using celebrities to set trends. "Ambitious VOICES" created a mini docudrama Pressure focusing on sex and STD’s. To demonstrate that teens encounter both positive and negative forms of peer pressure when it comes to sexual behavior, the film follows a young couple who is not only pressured into having sex but is also pressured into getting tested and being responsible.

On May 12, 2012 over 30 students presented their final projects to friends, family and the UCCP staff. The final event was planned and facilitated by our current high school seniors as an extra leadership opportunity, and consisted of icebreakers, a poem/spoken word performance, power point presentations and the premiere of their films. The event served as a space for the students to take what they had learned throughout the year and engage others in conversations around the issues they chose that affect them most. 

POWER Interns take on Media Influences, Sex Ed and Legal Rights

This academic year we had two cycles of the POWER Internship.

18 students completed the Fall cycle, from November to March, representing six different schools: Franklin Learning Center, South Philadelphia High School, George Washington Carver, Freire Charter School, Parkway NW for Social Justice and Peace and Parkway West. Both groups focused on role of media in the lives of youth, creating two PSAs that deal with the issue: My Media Brain and Peer Pressure in the Media. (Click on the titles to see the video). My Media Brain interrogates stereotypes of young people in Philadelphia and affirming that young people are not who the media portrays them to be with the declaration “I am not my media brain.”  Peer Pressure in the Media addresses the negative messages that are sent to young people through the media and how this can impact their choices and lives. It also explores the role of friends and peers in encouraging behaviors presented in the media. Through their PSA the interns sought to engage their peers in conversations about resisting what the media (focusing on music and television) often defines as “cool.” The students designed workshops around their PSAs and presented to other students at Parkway NW High School for Peace and Social Justice and to UCCP’s VOICES after school program.
25 students from Freire Charter School, Bodine High School for International Affairs, Mariana Bracetti Charter School, Eastern University Academy Charter School, Mastery Charter School Lenfest campus, Mastery Charter School Shoemaker Campus, Mastery Charter School Thomas Campus, and Simon Gratz High School participated in the Spring cycle of the POWER Internship. They produced two PSAs, focusing on issues of sex education and community policing. House Party Problems depicts the consequences of parents not talking about sex with their children and the lack of comprehensive sex education in schools. They chose this topic because most of the students in the program do not receive sex education in school and free condoms are not available for students at most of their schools. The interns visited the Mazzoni Center and participated in a workshop on STIs, safer sex, reproduction and birth control.  They used some of the information they collected from the workshop to create their own workshop around their PSA. The Know Your Rights PSA was created to inform young people of their rights when confronted by the police and how to best handle such confrontations. The interns in this group chose this topic after engaging in discussions about the lack of positive relationships between the police and young people in Philadelphia. The interns presented their PSAs to their peers, family members and UCCP staff and facilitated an engaging dialogue about the issues raised in their projects. 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Youth Action Scholars: Inequality in Education

Lypheng Kim, sophomore at Mastery Charter (Thomas) leading a
"3 Corners" activity at the final Youth Action Scholars event.

This spring, our Youth Action Scholars worked hard to put together an educational and interactive workshop on inequality in our education system, an issue that feels especially timely given the current state of public education here in Philadelphia.  The project was inspired by a field trip the Scholars took on the 23 bus, which stretches the length of the city, starting on Oregon Ave in South Philadelphia and ending at the top of Germantown Ave in Chestnut Hill.  This look at the vast differences (and inequities) that exist in communities that are so close geographically, prompted them to examine the differences between two high schools that sit along the 23 route. Their workshop focused on the differences in demographics and funding at Germantown High School and Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School.  They facilitated their workshop for an audience of almost 50 people at their final event on Temple's campus on May 23.  The five Youth Action Scholars who completed the year were articulate, thoughtful, talented, and committed to raising awareness about how educational inequality affects young people in Philadelphia.  We are very proud of them!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

POPPYN receives PhillyCAM IMPACT Award

On March 29th, 2012, UCCP's youth produced news show POPPYN was honored with the 2nd Annual PhillyCAM IMPACT Award for an organizational member.   PhillyCAM's IMPACT Awards acknowledge the exceptional work of members who create programs that inspire Philadelphians to improve the quality of their communities.

The POPPYN team received the award at PhillyCAM's Annual Member Meeting at the Philadelphia History Museum. The crew is incredibly honored by PhillyCAM's recognition of our commitment to and evolution in creating an innovative, engaging and authentic outlet for youth representation in Philadelphia. PhillyCAM has been a tremendous supporter of the show for the past two years - through consulting, distribution, training and hosting POPPYN events. It's a strong and wonderful partnership, and the IMPACT award is an official declaration of that mutual respect.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Strengthening Our Democratic Enterprise: Education Policy in the 21st Century

UCCP Executive Director, Dr. Barbara Ferman was a featured blogger on "The Education Optimists," one of the best education blogs of 2010 according to the Washington Post.

Dr. Ferman's post explains the principles and practices of Action Civics - "an iterative process of issue identification, research, constituency building, action, and reflection that is used to address real-world experiences that apply to the lives of students." UCCP is one of the founding members of the National Action Civics Collaborative (NACC).

Read the full article here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

UCCP Summer Academy 2011

UCCP family summer2011

This summer, UCCP hosted another successful summer academy, providing an opportunity for 25 Philadelphia youth and 9 Leader Corps members to spend 6 weeks working to develop leadership and media production skills and educate others about important issues in their community.

Read the stories about specific projects below and check out some more pictures of this summer on our Flickr account!

POPPYN Summer 2011!


This summer UCCP’s home-grown news show POPPYN (Presenting Our Perspective on Philly Youth News) welcomed a new cohort of young members to its team, representing many Philadelphia neighborhoods and schools: Kensington/ Kensington Culinary Academy, Olney/ Science Leadership Academy, Center City/ Mastery Charter School, South Philly/ Horace Furness High School, North Philly/ Tacony Academy, Brewerytown/ Constitution High. Students were trained by UCCP’s veteran V-Media producers Saeed Briscoe and Taesha White on media production and literacy, with support of Temple University intern Lynsey Graeff.

The new crew learned the mission of POPPYN and what it takes to produce an episode by jumping right into the process, assuming the jobs of researchers, anchors, reporters, camera people and editors in the production of POPPYN #5! Episode 5 focused on food in Philadelphia, highlighting the efforts of youth-led urban nutrition and gardening programs like Urban Nutrition Initiative and Teens 4 Good. Also featured were interviews and facts about teens’ favorite foods, a deconstruction of ethnic food stereotypes and a report from a National youth-run community-agriculture conference called Rooted in Community. You can see all these stories as well as more creative interpretations of the theme on POPPYN’s website:

Additionaly, four of the young POPPYN crew member had an opportunity to participate in the National Association for Media Literacy Education conference this July in Philadelphia. Our participants worked with youth from all over the country as part of the M3 (Modern Media Makers) camp, dedicating over 48 hours of their weekend to collaborative production of 5 short genre-specific film pieces that creatively interpret the definition of media literacy. See their amazing, hilarious and inspired work at the NAMLE M3 blog:

A big thank you to Mosi Blaylock, a UCCP Leaders Corps member who accompanied and supported the youth at M3 through the entire camp.

Third year of YAS to a strong start!

Passionate Coordinators develops confidence

The 2011-2012 Youth Action Scholars are off to a great start! This past July, 20 high school students from a variety of schools and neighborhoods came together to take part in the six-week summer session kick-off of the program year. Led by Leader Corps members Kenny Williams-Medley and Earla Joseph, this year's YAS participants are looking at two important issues that affect their communities. Kenny's group is investigating Diversity and Immigration in Philadelphia, specficially looking at how immigration is affecting and changing the face of our city, as well as the unique set of issues and challenges immigrants (especially immigrant youth) and their communities face once they arrive here in Philadelphia. Earla's group is taking a closer look at the Juvenile Justice System, and the racial and socioeconomic inequalities which result in the incarceration of a disproportionate amount of poor and minority youth. The students worked hard to put together two interactive and engaging workshops on their respective topics, which they were able to practice for family and friends at the final event. This fall, their hard work will continue with the addition of a media component to each workshop, field trips to community organizations, presenting their workshops to peer and adult groups, and more. We are looking forward to a productive and inspriring year!

Leadership Development Institute 2011

LDI 2011 in action

Every summer we provide the opportunity for a select group of past participants and Temple University students to participate in our Leadership Development Institute (LDI) to gain a working knowledge of our organization, the process of youth leadership development and project facilitation. Successful graduates of the LDI are eligible to become part of UCCP’s Leaders Corps, a dedicated group of talented young adults who facilitate all of our programs.

LDI participants are trained on hard skills of facilitation, project planning, curriculum development, issue research, and UCCP’s philosophy of youth-led project-based learning. As part of their training the LDI participants, like the youth they’ll be working with, have to collectively identify an issue, create a media project, prepare a presentation, and facilitate an activity. Through the experiential learning process, the LC-in-training gain a better understanding of the challenges they’ll face in supporting a youth-driven community engagement project.

Five outstanding young people completed the LDI this summer, producing a powerful project on the representation of women in the media. We are excited to welcome them to the Leaders Corps: Lynsey Graeff and Jessica Arce who will be working with POPPYN, Taneka Price and Adeoyin Otolorin ‘Dee’ who will be working with VOICES and Norman Scott who will be working with the POWER Internship.

Youth Action Scholars take "Reality Check" to Free Minds Free People!

IMG_0081 IMG_0115

Youth Action Scholars Taneka Price and Jabari Jackson, with the leadership of Kenny Williams-Medley and Alie Huxta presented a powerful interactive workshop to an audience of more than 30 youth and adults at the Free Minds Free People conference in Providence, RI. Workshop attendees got a "Reality Check" on the relationships between media ownership and representation and school funding and leadership. Content for the workshop has been developed by Youth Action Scholar participants in the "Education" and "Race, Culture & Mass Media" groups over the course of 2010-2011 program year. Thank you FMFP for the amazing opportunity to share and network with likeminded social justice educators!