CPS students create PSAs

November 24, 2009 (CHICAGO) There was no red carpet at this movie screening, but the young producers whose videos are being showcased for classmates and community members feel no less proud.

"You learn how to film, how to act, how to edit. You learn about PSAs, documentaries, short films," said Delvin Barber, junior, North Lawndale College Prep.

The movie-makers are all students at North Lawndale College Prep on the city's West Side. The videos are produced in a class taught by free spirit media -- a non-profit group that works in partnership with Chicago Public Schools.

"It's not just about the media that the kids are producing, it's about the kids' ability to produce and to think critically about the issues around them," said Jeff McCarter, founder, Free Spirit Media.

The issue they're tackling this school year is violence. Many of the students are inspired by personal experience.

"When I first started school, my best friend was murdered," said Kayla Jones, senior, North Lawndale College Prep. "I told the story of how I was impacted that night."

"My stepfather, he died due to a gunshot to the head. ... Since he died I wanted to fight for peace in my community," said Darlisa Scott, senior, North Lawndale College Prep.

While the students are happy to hear praise for their work, many say they would rather hear that their work is inspiring change.

"Hopefully, they focus more on the problem that we're trying to solve which is violence and I hope that they take from that they have a voice," said Kayla Jones, senior, North Lawndale College Prep.

"You can rally and you can talk and you can protest and you can make all of these profound quotes about violence, but all of that is nothing if you never do anything about it," said Delvin Barber, junior, North Lawndale College Prep.

Free Spirit Media works in five Chicago public schools. The students involved also produce a sports show and a weekly newscast. Check out their work:

  • youtube.com/user/FreeSpiritMedia
  • freespiritmedia.org
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