YMAP Project: Pittsburgh Obama Youth Media Advocacy Club
Students from Pittsburgh Obama High School's Youth Media Advocacy Club, co-sponsored by civics teacher Kevin Reid and math teacher Erin Gallo, participated in the Youth Media Advocacy Project during the 2010-2011 school year.
A Carlow (Communications for Advocacy major), from Carlow's Youth Media Advocacy course (CM/SWSL400), and the YMAP Director met with the high school students for 35 minutes every other week from October 2010 through May 2011.
Gloria Marshman and students at PCTV-21
Students broke into small groups, each working on an issue of interest. They created messages on posters. PCTV-21 came into the classroom and filmed the students presenting their posters.
One of the topic areas – the need for healthier school lunches - was further developed into a short video. PCTV-21 came and filmed a group of students in the school cafeteria, discussing the pros and cons of the current school lunches and making suggestions for changes. Some of these changes – such as asking for broccoli! – might surprise adults who generally assume teen food preferences begin and end with pizza.
The students invited the top executives from Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Food Services to a screening of their video (“What’s for Lunch?”). They presented the department director with the DVD copy of the video he requested. The screening was followed by a question and answer session where the Obama students learned about some of the cost constraints dealt with by the food services division, as well as the department’s desire to better serve the students. The director suggested that the Obama students form a Nutrition Advisory Council which could regularly meet with the Pittsburgh Public School’s food administrative team, provide input and sample new possible menu items.
In the months that followed the February 2011 meeting, changes were made in the Pittsburgh Obama cafeteria that reflected the desires expressed by students in the video, including the addition of turkey subs and fresher salad items.
The students continued to pursue the issue of fresher and healthier food choices, meeting with Josh Burnett from Grow Pittsburgh and conducting an interview with him at PCTV-21’s studios. In this interview, students explore how they might participate in a school/community garden project.
Students also storyboarded and rehearsed videos on other topics which they filmed at PCTV-21. These topics include providing more help for homework, preventing the transmission of STDs, having more electives and more field trips including visits to workplaces that can inform students’ future career choices. The Pittsburgh Obama Youth Media Advocacy Club’s video work aired on PCTV-21.
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Helping Hand for Homework ad, created by Pittsburgh Obama students, ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Obama students also created a print ad (see image of add to the left) expressing their opinion that students need homework support to perform better in school. This ad ran in the March 22 special Top 50 Businesses section of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reaching an audience of business leaders and other influentials. The ad also garnered about 75,000 impressions on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s web site.
The students presented their “What’s for Lunch” video and their print ad 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. The students are pleased that their use of media to advocate for healthier school lunches actually resulted in change!!
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