Carlow University’s Youth Media Advocacy Project Gives City School Students a Chance to Make a Difference

Carlow University’s Youth Media Advocacy Project teaches Pittsburgh Public School students how to advocate for change in their schools and communities using media. Projects are on display at Carlow on Friday, April 26.

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Drew Wilson, Director, Media Relations May 01, 2019
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Projects Give Students a Voice to Address Gun Violence, Mental Health, Physical Health, and Restorative Justice

Emmy-Award Winning Film Director Emmai Alaquiva Will Give the Keynote Address

Pittsburgh, Pa. –High school and middle school students from several Pittsburgh Public Schools will be gathering at Carlow University on Friday, April 26, 2019 to share how participating in the Youth Media Advocacy Project  (YMAP) has made a difference for them.

Over the course of a school year, YMAP (pronounced WHY-MAP) brings Carlow University student mentors alongside students from Brashear, Perry, and Westinghouse High Schools, as well as Manchester Academic Charter School, a middle school, to shape initiatives that the younger students feel is important to benefit their classmates or the community surrounding their school.

On Friday, April 26, 2019, all of the students who participated in the YMAP program at their respective schools will be at Carlow’s St. Agnes Center to present the initiatives that they worked on during the school year.

Emmai Alaquiva, an Emmy Award-winning film director, photographer and composer will offer the keynote address for the

There were multiple projects at the schools, and they addressed some heavyweight issues like gun violence, teen mental health, and restorative justice in place of traditional punitive punishments.  A complete listing of the projects is at the end of this release.

The agenda for the day includes:

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Welcome and Keynote

  • Brief Introduction
    • Jess Gold, Carlow Center for Youth Media Advocacy Program Coordinator
    • Ryan Scott, Carlow Social Justice Institutes Director
  • Welcome – Dr. Sibdas Ghosh, Carlow University Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs
  • Keynote Address – Emmai Alaquiva, Emmy Award-Winning Producer, Entrepreneur, & Mentor
  • YMAP Mentor Poster Introduction

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM: YMAP Youth Project Showcase

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Lunch and Connecting

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Closing & Student Tours of Carlow

YMAP empowers teens to express their own voices, particularly on education reform and improving the school environment through the identification and analysis of problems and the creation and distribution of media to advocate for change. YMAP links youth organizing, pedagogy, and media advocacy to support youth to create positive change in their schools and communities.

Through YMAP, students network with community leaders and professionals to research problems, create powerful media content, and distribute that content through social media and mainstream news sources.

With support from a grant by The Heinz Endowments Education Program, YMAP began at Carlow in January 2010, and has evolved to become a collaborative effort of three organizations: Carlow, Saturday Light Brigade Radio, Inc., and The Consortium for Public Education.

### Editor’s Note:  The news media is welcome to cover the Youth Media Advocacy Project event at Carlow University on Friday, April 26.  Please contact Drew Wilson to arrange convenient, free parking.

About Carlow University

Carlow is a private, co-educational, Catholic university located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Eds, Meds, and Tech” district. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow’s graduates, curricula, and partnerships reflect its strong commitment to social justice; ethical, forward-thinking and responsible leadership; and service to the community that has a meaningful impact. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in four colleges: Health and Wellness, Leadership and Social Change, Learning and Innovation, and Professional Studies. Carlow graduates are in demand for their professional expertise, in fields ranging from nursing, the sciences, and perfusion technology to counseling, education, and forensic accounting; their entrepreneurial spirit and creative mindset; and their ability to manage change.  Carlow’s 13 athletic teams are known as the Celtics, a reflection of the university’s Irish heritage and roots.

Description of Student Projects


Brashear Youth Courtis a teen-run courtroom where students who have been referred for disciplinary action can appear before a jury of their peers to receive a restorative disposition, instead of a traditional punitive punishment. This is the first program of it’s kind in Pittsburgh Public Schools and the students created media to help promote the Youth Court both in and out of their school; making audiograms, a brochure, and, with the help of a media professional, a video that was shot during a field trip to the City County Building. Students were also able to learn more about the benefits of restorative justice from folks like Elliot Howsie (Allegheny County Chief Public Defender), the Honorable Kathryn Hens-Greco(Family Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County), and long time social activist Fania Davis.


The Locker

Perry students determined that hygiene is a problem among their peers. There are many reasons students don’t have access to hygiene products. Students knew about poverty being an issue, but they learned from an interview with the school librarian and pantry manager, Sheila May-Stein, that Perry has a large homeless population. To combat a student’s inability to purchase and store hygiene products, “The Locker” will provide students with travel sized body wash, shampoo and lotion.  Students will also collect socks after learning that socks are frequently requested by students.

Teen Mental Health

The students at Perry have found that Teen Mental Health was an important issue for discussion. They wanted to spread awareness of mental health in schools. Their aim is to reach teachers so they have a better understanding of the issues they may have. They want students to know that they are heard and not alone in what they are going through. The students did research, some through interviewing their teacher Ms. Miller, as well as collecting anonymous stories submitted in boxes where students can feel free to share their stories on mental health. Eventually this group plans to use radio broadcast to spread awareness on Teen Mental Health.

The Respect Campaign

Perry students have identified disrespect within their school as an issue that interrupts learning.

Disrespect is something that exists between students and teachers, teachers and students, and students and their peers. Teachers have a limited time to teach due to disrespect within classrooms. Students created a plan to distribute stopwatches to teachers to better understand the amount of time students have to learn.This plan includes teachers documenting learning and teaching time for each class for two separate days during the week. This data will be collected and distributed to school employees in hopes that the information helps everyone in the school create or improve policies that encourage respect and for everyone to consider how their actions impact learning time.


Pizza for Peace– Identifying gun violence as an issue in their community, this group of students sold pizza during school lunch periods to benefit FOCUS Pittsburgh; a local organization that provides on-the-spot trauma care for the victims of shootings, as well as their families and their neighbors. Students created logos, signage, and the “Pizza for Peace” name to promote the fundraiser. Guest speakers Richard Garland (University of Pittsburgh’s Violence Prevention Initiative) and Godfrey McCray (Youth for a Brighter Community) came to Westinghouse to converse with the group and further their understanding of the issue.

Clean House– Clean House was a clean up effort that took place around Westinghouse High School. Students collected trash (and recycling!) from on and around their school’s campus to beautify their surroundings. This group had originally conceived and branded a campaign called Hoop 4 Hope, which was to be a students vs. teachers charity basketball game, but then pivoted to Clean House after some logistical difficulties. In all, students gathered over a dozen bags of garbage and debris from the area around their school.

Westinghouse Girls’ Group– From some of the earliest sessions in the fall semester, girls in our second glass kept coming back to a lack of spaces where they can talk about problems specific to high school girls. So a weekly space and time was created so the Girls’ Group could have regular meetings with expert facilitators, such as Ruth’s Way (a local organization that provides services to area young women from ages 13-21) and Planned Parenthood. The group had weekly forum discussions on a variety of topics, like self confidence, bullying, and inner beauty. The Girls Group wrote and recorded a series of radio PSAs on these issues to help and inspire their peers.

Manchester Academic Charter School

Recess Warriors 

MACS students have 15 minutes of recess daily. The Recess Warriors have determined that 15 minutes is not enough time for recess. Students met with their principal and with recess advocates from Trying Together and Pittsburgh Play Collaborative to learn more about how play is critical to a child’s development. Students plan to meet with the head of school to advocate for more recess time before the end of the school year. MACS will be moving to a new building and students want to be certain that recess remains a priority as they transition to their new school.


Finding no outlet for her dramatic side, one student from MACS is trying to get an acting/drama elective for her school. Through research she has found that there is a positive correlation between having an acting class and higher scores on standardized tests. She is currently working on an interest survey to send schoolwide to see how many students would be interested in an acting/drama elective. She later plans to present to her principal. Along with this, she is meeting with Kristen Link, the Director of Education & Accessibility of CityTheatre Company, in order to get feedback on her presentation so far as well as general knowledge about acting/drama in school.

Show Your Inner Beauty S.Y.I.B. 

Show Your Inner Beauty (SYIB) students have identified low self-esteem as a problem. Members of this group have developed a campaign that addresses self-esteem issues, which they believe is at the root of bullying. Students have presented their issue to their principal, Mrs. Phylissa Thomas. As a result of the presentation, SYIB’s proposal for an event that challenges their peers to develop trust and an understanding about self care, respect, bullying, emotional health using fun activities was approved. This event will take place on May 3rd from 9am – 12pm at MACS and will include 3 guest speakers, Ta’lor Pinkston, founder of Ladyhood Journey, Tamiah Bridgett, inventor and natural hair guru, and Kevin McNair, founder of 1Nation Mentoring.

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