Mississippi Public Broadcasting has partnered with the Mississippi Youth Media Project to train diverse teenagers ages 14 to 18, primarily underserved teens in central Mississippi, using digital technology to produce high-quality multimedia to share their own stories and report on their communities with rigorous solutions journalism.
The goal of YMP is to reduce school dropout, inspire more first-generation college students, and bridge the workforce skills gap by preparing students for an evolving workplace with 21st century jobs that haven’t been created yet. Thanks to continued efforts in the state from dedicated parents, teachers, administrators, and community and education advocates, graduation rates in Mississippi have gradually increased in the past five years. Mississippi still lags behind the national average, though, and there is still work to be done. In addition to a focus on graduation, the Mississippi Department of Education also includes college and career preparedness in their five-year strategic direction.
YMP students learn career technical skills in audio/video technology and communications. The program mobilizes learning through technology by focusing on the arts and media and highlighting careers in the tech industry. YMP enhances the creativity of young people and connects with students through innovative school partnership programs, after-school education programs, and an intensive summer program.
A key principle of YMP is to connect teens with working professional mentors in a space with updated, relevant technology that drives multimedia storytelling. YMP's hands-on learning environment sets a culture of high expectations and respect for each teen's intelligence, ideas, and experiences. Students create solutions-based content that drives multimedia projects about relevant community issues. Through creative community engagement, students construct narratives that shift the perception of young people in central Mississippi.
Former MPB "Can I Kick It" Summer Media Institute participant, Makallen Kelley, is a student journalist at YMP this summer. She reflects on her youth media work below:
"In today’s world, it is a common misconception that the most successful people become successful on their own. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that if you turn on the radio, you will hear songs proclaiming the act of grinding by themselves or getting to the top on their own. Although many may think this way, I’ve come to understand that this is not the case. Conrado I. Generoso said it best when he stated that 'no man is capable of self-improvement if he sees no other model but himself.'
By the end of my junior year, I knew without a doubt that mentorship was the key to succeeding at my goals, which is exactly what I got when I entered the Mississippi Youth Media Project.
YMP, as we call it, is a summer program that exposes young individuals to several aspects within the media field. Over the course of nine weeks, students will participate in writing, videography, photography, podcasting, music production and web design. While engaging in these realms, YMP hopes to create change in the community and in the student’s hearts.
After attending Mississippi Public Broadcasting's 'Can I Kick It' program last summer, I was a little hesitant to join the YMP program, which MPB is now involved with. It seemed like all the effort I’d put into getting comfortable and creating at MPB was going to waste. Even though the YMP program was centered around media, I didn't know how I would fit into the “journalism world." After the first few days, though, my fears subsided in the accepting atmosphere of the YMP office. I came to realize that even though I wasn't doing the same thing as last summer, I was still in an environment where I could grow and be seen.
Along with a great environment, YMP has an outstanding set of instructors. From the first day, I could tell every authoritative figure had the student’s best interest at heart. They were also quick to jump into showing us the ropes of journalism and media. Throughout our various sessions, I’ve gained an abundant amount of advice and information that can help me in any area of life.
One lesson that stuck with me was the fact that the greats don’t always start off great. One fear that I had about coming into the YMP program was that I wouldn't be as good as the other students. Several students were published and had received awards for their work, whereas I was a simple newcomer with nothing close to their accomplishments. But after going over the "Process Approach to Writing," I learned that drafting and rewriting is all a part of the process and is the only way to see improvement.
I’ve also learned the importance of “learning the monkey’s name." What started off as a fun story from Mrs. Lynne Schneider has turned into a slogan for us all. The idea of digging deeper into stories, grasping every detail and telling a narrative, is now engrained into our brains. I am so thankful to be able to experience such “rigorous journalism” and also to have the responsibility to create and report stories that not only touch others but also initiate change."
Along with Makallen, 28 other students from sixteen schools in central Mississippi meet on the 13th floor of the Capital Towers building in downtown Jackson. The former Associated Press office, now the YMP "newsroom" laboratory, creates a dynamic, supportive learning environment that embraces innovation and positive social-emotional development.
Students meet in the YMP space each weekday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to learn and create. YMP offers blended student learning and engagement using creative instructional tools, such as the visual and media arts including writing, photography, videography, podcasting, web design, and music production. These disciplines are used as a tool to engage students in experiential learning to develop professional, entrepreneurial and leadership skills, like critical thinking, collaboration, positive communication, decision-making, project management and completion, and problem solving.
You can follow more student work online, including frequent blog posts and more intensive journalism work.
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