YMAP Project: Pittsburgh Young Leaders Academy (PYLA) at Brashear High School
Students in the afterschool program Pittsburgh Young Leaders Academy (PYLA/Pittsburgh Cares) at Brashear High School participated in the Youth Media Advocacy Project in the spring of 2011. A Carlow (Communications for Advocacy major), from Carlow's Youth Media Advocacy course (CM/SWSL400), and the YMAP Director met with the Brashear PYLA high school students each week from February until May of 2011.
Carlow student mentor Natalie Pope, PPS School Board President Sherry Hazuda, and Brashear students
Brashear students narrowed their education concerns down to a core list:
- Desire to return culinary arts classes to Brashear HS
- Bathroom accessibility and cleanliness
- Communication styles in teaching
Brashear students learned about media buying and enjoyed rehearsing what questions to ask when buying media. With regard to the culinary arts classes, the students thought it would be good to reach out to leaders in the African American community. So the students bought an ad (see ad image to the right) in the “Fab 40” special issue of the New Pittsburgh Courier.
The students expressed their concern about restoring culinary arts classes to the School Board President. They showed her a copy of their ad in the Courier. The School Board President explained how budget constraints had forced the schools to cut some electives. She asked the students to explain why culinary arts classes were important to them. The students stressed the need to learn how to prepare healthy meals in our fast-food culture. This interchange was taped by SLB Radio, and appears as a episode of the weekly “YouthMAP” radio show (Listen to the broadcast - Episode 3, "Electives") which airs on the “Saturday Light Brigade” (WRCT-FM) and Saturday afternoons on WKST (KISS)–FM.
The Brashear students also had a chance to meet with their principal. They relayed to him their concerns about the bathrooms. The principal discussed his plan to open more bathrooms and asked the students how he could enlist their help, as student leaders, to keep the bathrooms clean. The principal shared with the students his plans for improving various aspects of the school next year. One of the projects he discussed is having hallways decked out with college banners. Carlow University students will be happy to decorate a Carlow hallway!!
A global issue the students addressed is the need for better communications between the adults and the students in the schools. They discussed the communications issue with their principal and also with the School Board President. Students described some ways in which comments made by teachers and other school staff (inadvertently) leave students feeling confused about their school studies, or even ignored or disrespected. They came up with ideas for a billboard addressing this problem, such as “Communication is the opposite of confrontation” and “Communication is the key to a good education.” They chose Route 51 as the location for their billboard (see image below) which is up in late summer leading into the school year.
Billboard appeared on Route 51 in late summer 2011
The students proudly presented their messages and media strategy to an audience of Pittsburgh high school students, Carlow staff and community leaders at the YMAP Project Expo at Carlow University on May 4, 2011.
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