This project is a part of the Global Parish Project which is represented in Belize by Nyasha Laing. She gave me some information which gave me a deeper insight into what Youth Voices is all about:
The Global Parish Project is a non-profit, community-based organization dedicated to the production and cross-cultural sharing of documentary stories in Belize. Global Parish’s vision is to inspire a stronger sense of identity among Belizeans by nurturing the craft and appreciation of documentary storytelling through film and related forms of cultural expression. YOUTH VOICES is a two-year community arts platform that contributes to the empowerment and identity building of youth. Our Word Power workshops and open mic events provide a safe space for youth to develop writing and literacy skills, and to speak out about their social experiences and the cultural realities that impact them.
Surely the project has tried to live up to these objectives. Last summer, Youth Voices Belize invited two filmmakers Kahlil Fantauzzi and Eli Fantauzzi who hosted a storytelling and documentary workshop. The workshop, I think, was excellent for the eager and talented young poets. Not only were they given the opportunity to work with the filmmakers and learn basic techniques in photography and film, but they were able to view a documentary done by Eli Fantauzzi which he filmed in El Salvador just prior to his visit to Belize.
In connection with the same workshop, Willie Perdomo, the author of Nickel and Dimed, was invited to conduct a poetry reading series. Perdomo did presentations in Belize City, Belmopan and Dangriga. The young people who partook in the workshops did a wonderful presentation in the Institute of Mexico last August. This event, which was emceed by the radiant energy of Nyabingi Price, featured original pieces of poetry from the youths, to mention a few memorable performers: Micah ‘Mighty Mic’ Goodin, Gianni Martinez, Marika Zuniga and Williams Nduka and Willie Perdomo himself. It was surely a treat to hear Belizean stories, dreams and experiences expressed skilfully in the form poetry and spoken word.
After the summer camp, Youth Voices Belize continued filming especially with their Southside Film Project, doing outreach in schools in Belize City, Orange Walk and Belmopan. They have now established ties with Wesley College and Muffles College.
In January of this year, to celebrate their one year anniversary, Youth Voices Belize presented their documentary film I am Alive. A press release sent out from Youth Voices Belize in January stated that:
I am Alive, a short film, was created for the Youth and Community Transformation Project and explores the lives of South Side youths and the future they desire. This event will feature a short film screening, youth performances, community testimonials and entertainment for all ages. The event is part of a citywide effort to restore and bring life to the South Side.
Youth Voices Belize has big plans for 2012 including public service announcement production training, mini poetry slams, and more short film projects. The initiatives being proposed by Youth Voices Belize are definitely things that the youths can look forward to. The Youth Voices Belize offers a beautiful alternative to the crime, unemployment and the general frustration which many Belizean youths face daily. Here youths have a forum to discuss their ideas while garnering tools they can use to express their views, emotions and art.
Definitely the positive domino effect of the Youth Voices Belize can be witnessed in the brainchild project A.R.M.E.D. of a Youth Voice participant Micah “Mighty Mic” Goodin. A.R.M.E.D according to their facebook page is a tutoring club geared towards assisting students who may not otherwise have access to assistance. It states: ARMED envisions a society in which all high school students will be competent, disciplined and able to make it into any tertiary level educational institution across the length and breadth of this nation. Academics Returning Mentorship, Education and Discipline (ARMED), a non-profitable and non-governmental tutoring club located on SJCJC campus provides individualized, supplemental educational support to anyone in dire need of academic remediation, maintenance and enhancement.
For more information on the Youth Voices Belize, contact Stephanie Jimenez at 677-5571 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Youth-Voices-Belize/139008712819770?ref=t.