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September 12, 2006
First-time filmmakers explore issues facing Toronto youth
  
“Hear the Story” aids community safety efforts

Film is a uniquely engaging medium. That’s why the City of Toronto’s Community Safety Secretariat created a youth engagement project focusing on film production in the summer of 2005. The Youth Documentary Training Project gave 10 young people of colour the opportunity to work with an experienced filmmaker to learn technical skills and create a film that tells their own story and provides an insight into the real meaning of community safety.

The resulting film documentary, “Hear the Story,” was screened today in City Hall’s Council Chamber.

Documentary filmmaker Alison Duke director of “A Deathly Silence,” co-ordinated the five-month project which involved a diverse group of youth between the ages of 16 and 24. The 30-minute documentary they produced follows the lives of three of the participants. The stories they tell are honest and hopeful. Says one of the filmmakers, “We all have our own stories - complete with unique struggles and layered challenges - but more importantly, we all have the potential to achieve success.”

While “Hear the Story” examines the barriers that each of the subjects faces, viewers also get a glimpse of the dreams of each, and the steps they need to take to achieve success. The film also examines perceptions of crime and safety in Toronto’s vulnerable neighbourhoods.

“This is more than art,” said Mayor David Miller, who introduced the screening today. “In addition to a valuable and creative skill, these young people have created something that entire communities can benefit from. This documentary will be used to engage young people in discussions about the challenges they face in their own neighbourhoods. They’ve done a terrific job and I’m very proud of what they’ve accomplished...and they should be too.”

“The process to create Hear the Story was more than just teaching young people about how to produce a film,” said Alison Duke. “The process was about young people from diverse backgrounds and different neighbourhoods working together towards a common goal. We were faced with acknowledging and accepting our differences so that we could create a documentary we are all proud to have been a part of.”

The film is available free of charge to youth organizations and other groups that deliver programs for young people by calling the City of Toronto’s Community Safety Secretariat at 416-397-0442. “Hear the Story” is also available for download on the City’s website at http://www.toronto.ca/community_safety.

The City of Toronto also launched the InvolveYouth 2: A guide to meaningful youth engagement, today, which provides advice on youth engagement to organizations and staff who work with youth. The guide is a practical manual which draws on the experience of youth workers and other experts. It provides strategies on how organizations can help young people - particularly marginalized young people of colour - gain new skills and understanding by creating welcoming environments, supporting youth to make decisions and designing program activities and approaches that meaningfully engage youth.

InvolveYouth 2 will be distributed to youth-serving organizations throughout the city and is available online at http://www.toronto.ca/involveyouth or by calling the City’s Community Safety Secretariat at 416-397-0442.

Backgrounder
City of Toronto releases guide to youth engagement

The City of Toronto has a commitment to helping young people make a successful transition to adulthood and become self-sufficient and engaged citizens. The City and many community organizations help youth make these transitions through a wide variety of programs and services. At the heart of many of these programs is a strong emphasis on youth engagement.

Youth engagement programs and approaches:
  • provide opportunities for skill development and capacity building
  • provide opportunities for leadership
  • encourage reflection on identity
  • develop social awareness.

InvolveYouth2: A guide to meaningful youth engagement, which was launched today by the City of Toronto, provides advice on youth engagement to organizations and staff who work with youth. The guide is a practical manual which draws on the experience of youth workers and other experts. It provides strategies on how organizations can help young people – particularly marginalized young people of colour – gain new skills and understanding by creating welcoming environments, supporting youth to make decisions and designing program activities and approaches that meaningfully engage youth.

Among the topics covered in InvolveYouth2 are:
  • how to ground youth engagement work in an understanding of the principles of access, equity and social justice, i.e. within an anti-oppression framework
  • how organizations can successfully prepare themselves for youth engagement
  • how to recruit and support youth to participate in programs
  • how to deal with problematic behaviour such as absenteeism, disinterest and dominant personalities
  • how to deal with bad decisions and other unexpected developments.

In his forward to InvolveYouth2 Mayor David Miller writes, “This guide is testament to the value the City of Toronto places on youth programs and the people who provide and participate in them. I hope it is a useful tool in creating more effective programs and enhancing the safety of our communities.”

The guide was produced as part of the Community Safety Plan by the Social Development, Finance and Administration Division with funding from the Ontario Works Incentive Fund. It builds on the work of InvolveYouth: A guide to involving youth in decision-making which was released in 2004 as part of a social marketing campaign designed to build public awareness of the importance of youth engagement. Social Development Finance and Administration continues to promote youth engagement through its support of the Toronto Youth Cabinet and other community-based initiatives.

InvolveYouth2 will be distributed to youth-serving organizations throughout the city and is available online at http://www.toronto.ca/involveyouth.

Media contact:
Sutha Balasingham, Community Safety Secretariat, 416-397-0442


 

 

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