Austin’s South By Southwest, a festival nationally known for the interactive events in both film and music, was once limited to the adult crowd. Thanks to a collaboration between a few Austin organizations, opportunities for the youth to partake are on the rise.
Originally started in 2013, Youth Media Project was created by a joint venture between E4 Youth and Black Media Council. YMP offers high school and college kids the experience of SXSW, as well as the opportunity to learn and improve their creative skills relating to media coverage.
The students are first brought in to “boot camp,” a series of day-long workshops and classes starting in January, in which they learn blogging, multimedia skills and various social media tools. These classes occur every weekend up until the kickoff of SXSW, during which students work on team building, critical thinking, media literacy and content creation.
“We want students to experience what it takes to pursue professional careers as creative people and develop a network of like-minded peers,” said Carl Settles, cofounder of YMP and CEO of E4 Youth.
This year’s curriculum consisted of two informational sessions in January, leading up to six different Saturday sessions.
“The YMP curriculum has a heavy focus of soft skills including team building, critical thinking and media literacy. Mastering these skills allows students to come away from SXSW with more meaningful experiences that translate well into their daily lives both at school and home.”
— YMP (@YMPAustin) February 7, 2015
The staff of YMP range from long time educators, filmmakers, journalists and even doctors. However during the months of mentoring and educating, the youth aren’t the only ones taking things away from YMP’s program.
“There are a lot of moments and they all involve a realization that “the kids are alright”, that’s a Who reference,” said Misa Soliz, a YMP volunteer. “I used to worry about the youth, thinking they were self-indulgent, narcissistic, spoiled, carefree, etc. That really isn’t the case with these kids. They have their eyes wide open. They see through the bullshit that is being force fed to them by the media and the establishment.
YMP is sponsored by multiple entities such as GSD&M, McJ, H-E-B and JuiceLand. Collaborations also extend to Dub Academy, a non-profit school specializing in Djing and music production, and MVMT50, a coalition of black tech thought leaders.
"Big shout-out to our amazing youth media ambassadors, college mentors, sponsors, and partners. See you next year!" pic.twitter.com/ntz6YeN7YP
— YMP (@YMPAustin) March 18, 2015
Over the dates of February 4th up until the follow up of SXSW, the youth of YMP posted 54 blogs. The topics the blogs ranged from poems, fashion articles, culinary write-ups and various other topics.
“Hearing all the ways that YMP has positively impacted the lives of participating youth always brings a satisfying smile to my face,” Dr. Kevin Thomas, a cofounder of both YMP and Black Media Council, said. “I love hearing firsthand the many ways that all our hard work paid off.”
— Jairus Popp (@JairusPoppkcco) April 14, 2015
To stay up to date with YMP, or if you or someone you know would be interested in enrolling in next year’s program, be sure to follow them at @YMPAustin on Twitter. You can also check out the websites for for more information regarding donations, tours, sponsorship and contact.