Friday, December 3, 2010

Visual Media, Empowering Youth while Stimulating our Economy

From the moment that I first became a dad I’ve felt that one of the most important things I could do for my kids was to empower them to find their passion. If a young person can find something positive that they are passionate about it becomes a guiding light in their lives that helps to lead them away from negative pursuits.

As a parent, it can be easy to get irritated by how much time our kids spend playing video games, watching videos on Youtube and watching TV. But what if our kids were empowered to express themselves and actually create the video games and videos that people are watching?

Project AWARE has the defined goal of “Empowering young people to lead”. One of the ways that they accomplish this enormous task is by igniting each youth’s individual passion through visual media production.

Using true story lines, developed by the young people involved in each project, a script is refined and every aspect of making a film, from preproduction to post production, is taken on by each of the young people involved in the film.

In its most recent film, Project AWARE worked with the Sanford Film Club, gum spirits productions and over 125 students from Sanford High School to produce “April’s Heart” “based on real-life stories from a suburban high school. The characters in the movie are survivors … like their real-life counterparts in the cast and crew … like the young people who dared to put their stories on paper, and like teenagers everywhere who balance their immense challenges with unbelievable strengths.”

I attended and spoke at the premiere of the film at the Curtis Lake Christian Church in Sanford. Imagine how empowering it was for each of the students involved in producing the film to have a world premiere with a red carpet, tuxedos and evening gowns. It is something that will continue to propel and empower each of them throughout their lives.

The skills they learned during the process of making the film will also stay with them.

The Sanford Film Club advisor, James Harmon, invited me to speak to the club members two weeks ago and I can tell you that many of the film club members who are considered “youth at risk” are ready for the next project and ready to pursue work on visual media productions.

One student, who had a lead role in “April’s Heart” told me that he was continually suspended from school before he work on the film and has not been suspended since. Positive passion will do that to a kid.

Positive passion is also what we need to begin to feed and build the Maine economy.

I truly believe that Project AWARE has the power to take a youth at risk and turn him or her into a future visual media producer who will help to stimulate the Maine economy and mentor the next generation of kids at risk.

I am asking you to make a donation to Project AWARE so that they can continue their invaluable work. I have committed to raising $500 for Project AWARE by December 31st and Project AWARE has an overall goal of raising $5,000 in the same time frame.

You can do a donation through the Project AWARE website at or simply send me a note letting me know what you can contribute and I will take care of collecting the donation.

We can do great things in Maine as long as we continue to empower young people to lead.