A Voice for New Haven Youth

Youth Rights Media puts on a variety of programs during the school year and over the summer, teaching students the intricacies of creating effective media projects
It is hard to imagine life without social media, texting, and online videos. Yet, that was the case in 2003 when Youth Rights Media (YRM) first incorporated. Although the technology was less accessible back then, the pioneering young nonprofit focused on educating teens on their rights and responsibilities in expressing themselves as positive, proactive members of the community through the power of their collective voices.
Students learn valuable media and social skills through Youth Rights Media programming. Photo courtesy of Youth Rights Media.

For over 13 years, Youth Rights Media has recognized and valued youth as an untapped source of creativity, insight, and compassion. They have helped students unleash their full potential by promoting confidence and providing the hands-on technical skills to create film, music, photography, social media, and audio - all aimed at social justice.

Through a variety of programs held during the school year and over the summer, students work as paid interns learning the intricacies of creating effective media projects from interviewing skills and public speaking, to project management and video production. Students ultimately gain marketable media skills, but the true value is much greater.

Alumni of the YRM programs are eager to report just how powerful the nonprofit has been in changing their lives. Several recently reunited to reflect on their experiences. The interviews were coordinated, filmed, and edited by Adina, a fellow alum who will be completing an internship this summer with a high-profile media organization in Manhattan.

Many alumni have gone on to pursue post-secondary education.

Chelsea, a former summer intern who is now a Media Studies major, enthusiastically reflected on her experience with YRM, "They teach us a lot of stuff that goes WAY beyond the realm of filming."

Emmalise, who is now attending Southern Connecticut University, recalls that "Before coming to YRM, I was very quiet. I did not talk at all." For her, YRM was "a big family, a place where you can feel comfortable and be yourself."

Stephen also gained confidence and the ability to find his voice. He stated that prior to joining YRM, "I was not as organized as I am now. I didn't really talk to people. I kept to myself. Working here encouraged me to be more social." In regards to the efforts of the organization he explained, "We're making the community aware, but we're also being the voice of the people."

Yasani, who attends Vassar College reported, "YRM taught me how to work with people. How to deal with different personalities on a project." Not afraid to speak her mind, she noted, "I'm an activist, an anti-racism activist at school."

Over the years, YRM has tackled difficult societal issues like the challenges faced by LGBT youth, dating violence, bullying, gender stereotypes, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), tobacco use, and more. Their latest project explores the intersection of food insecurity and the school lunch program in New Haven. The final product, the documentary "Fed: From Legislation to the Lunch Room" premieres on Thursday, June 11th at the Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel Street, New Haven. You can view the trailer below:

Youth Rights Media is supported by individual donations and has been a recipient of a multi-year grant from The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to help the organization empower youth to know, protect and advance their rights.

To learn more about the organization and support their work with local youth, please visit the Youth Rights Media giveGreater.org profile.

Did You Know?

There are more than 37,000 food-insecure children in New Haven County, alone.

Source: "Childhood Hunger," www.CTFoodBank.org