Long before we all had what amounts to an electronic movie studio in our pockets, we had those bulky, black camcorders. That is, if you were lucky enough to afford such an extravagance or borrow one from a friend. I recently watched five minutes of an old home video in which I repeatedly pleaded with my dad, “Can I please hold the camera?”
Even at a young age, we’re keenly aware that our perspective might be different from everyone else’s. And the cool thing about kids with this kind of understanding is that they aren’t afraid to show it. Today, be an honest and hopeful girl again. Step into the spotlight and show your true colors.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: More Than 56 Percent
According to Vassar’s Institute for Innovation in Social Policy, “kids’ involvement in artistic and cultural activities enriches their experiences, expands their sensibilities and enhances their understanding.” That organization’s recent study found that girls are more likely than boys to participate in performing-arts activities at school, with more than 56 percent of 8th grade girls joining in on some kind of arts-based pursuit, such as music, singing or acting.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Holly Carter, Founder and Executive Director of BYkids
Have you ever had this experience with your teenage daughter: Over dinner, you ask her, “How was your day?” and she despondently replies, “Fine,” or worse yet, just groans at you? While many folks think teens don’t have much to say, they do, in fact, need and desire an outlet to creatively express themselves. One such outlet—and one of the most ingenious avenues—for encouraging continued artistic expression in our kids is documentary filmmaking. And Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist Holly Carter couldn’t agree more.
With two decades of experience working as a journalist, editor and documentary filmmaker and nonprofit leader, Holly is a force to be reckoned with, and now she’s teaching kids that, like her, they can do anything they set their minds to. Holly started her career as a writer and editor for the prestigious New York Times, where her work garnered her that Pulitzer Prize nom. She also ran the Global Film Initiative, a private foundation that brings feature films from developing countries to U.S. institutions in an effort to promote cross-cultural understanding. And for several years, she worked as a producer for Media Matters, an award-winning PBS series about journalism.
That breadth of experience guided Holly to create a global nonprofit movement called BYkids, which employs storytelling through film to inform, engage and inspire action. BYkids provides kids throughout the world with training and video cameras, along with renowned mentorship, so they can make short documentaries about their lives and issues they’re passionate about. By telling their stories through film, children learn the mechanics of the filmmaking process, but more importantly, they learn about themselves.
Mentors like top TV producer Susan Hoenig and Academy Award-winning documentarian Karen Goodman provide training for the kids and insight into the art of filmmaking. The results are breathtakingly real documentaries, like one directed by 12-year-old Edelsin Linette Mendez, who tells the story of how climate change is threatening her family’s livelihood on a small coffee farm in the Nicaragua highlands.
Last year, BYkids partnered with public television, the Ford Foundation and Discovery Education to bring kids’ films to televisions throughout the U.S. PBS airs them, with Emmy-nominated actress Ashley Judd serving as the series narrator.
Holly believes every single person, regardless of age, deserves a chance to share his or her experience. Thanks to her organization, millions of people have joined the filmmaking movement, are engaging with unique educational curriculum and supporting the production of a whole new series of kids’ films.
QUITE THE QUOTE
Today’s powerful quote comes from Holly Carter herself. She said:
“You are strong, you are smart, you have your future in front of you. You each have something to say and something to teach. … Learn to live in your own skin and own your voice. Know that using that voice is the most powerful tool you have. … We all have a story to tell. What’s yours?”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.