October 17, 2008

Teen Producers Project Helps Local Teens Bring Out the Vote to New Citizens

In the midst of economic downfall and other prominent political issues, it is important now more than ever to become involved in the voting process. Local teens are helping spread the word on civic engagement through videos they created with Media Arts Center San Diego’s Teen Producers Project in partnership with The County of San Diego Registrar of Voters.

Youth from the Filipino, Spanish, and Vietnamese communities produced three short documentaries entitled “My Life, My Vote – Civic Engagement Through Voting,” to educate their communities about the empowerment to be gained and the service to be given through participation in the democratic process. The videos are in the community’s specific languages with subtitles in English.

The County of San Diego Registrar of Voters’ Michael Vu explained how this project developed from an idea to a reality.

Yolanda Romero is one of the subjects in the Spanish-language documentary. She’s a local artist and voter. You can watch the Spanish-language video online at www.sdvote.com

“‘My Life, My Vote’ was an idea that came from the staff within our Language Services Division,” said Vu. “With the partnership of Media Arts Center and the Teen Producers Project, they made this idea into three tangible and effective documentaries.”

Media Arts Center Executive Director, Ethan van Thillo explains the importance of getting the students of the Teen Producers Project involved in this project.

“Voting is an important part of our duty as citizens,” said van Thillo. “By getting the Teen Producers Project involved, we are not only educating the community about the benefits of voting, we are also preparing youth to become more vocal in their community.”

Vu emphasized the importance of reaching out to these communities where English might not be their native language. He stated that voting is important for all citizens, especially for those whose voices aren’t being heard because of language barriers.

“We hope that this project will contribute and generate more awareness among the Spanish, Filipino and Vietnamese communities about the importance of civic participation,” said Vu, “Especially as we are on the heels of the Presidential General Election.”

The films will be premiered at the 7th Anniversary Teen Producers Project Celebration and Student Scholarship Fundraiser on October 22nd at 5:30pm – 9:00pm at the Museum of Contemporary Art – downtown (110 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101). In addition to screening the documentaries, the celebration will include live music, a guest appearance by Hollywood writer and comedian, Rick Najera, complementary drinks, appetizers, and a dessert bar, complements of Azucar Cuban Bakery in Ocean Beach.

For 7 years, the Teen Producers Project has helped get at-risk teens off the street and back into the community through film production and education. The program is a chance for the students to prove to themselves that they are able to create something and gives them ambition to reach further in their lives.

“The goal of the Teen Producers Project is to create a generation of smart, educated youth that are deeply involved with their community,” said van Thillo. “ ‘My Life, My Vote’ is a perfect example of trying to achieve this goal through media education.”

“My Life, My Vote” was funded by The County of San Diego Registrar of Voters. Visit www.sdvote.com for more information about how to register.

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