By Ricky Vigil, Youth Services Afterschool Program Coordinator
In our Afterschool Programs, one of our primary goals is giving our kids the tools they need to succeed. We try to instill a strong work ethic, a value of teamwork and expand their horizons to new ideas that could lead to interesting and sustainable career interests. When asking the youth who participate in our programs about their career goals, I’ve heard some solid and standard responses—lawyer, doctor, police officer—but the one I have heard the most (and by a pretty large margin) is “YouTuber.” Before I worked with these kids, I didn’t even know professional YouTubers were a thing, but after seeing how much time the youth spend watching videos of other people playing video games, eating spicy peppers and doing cover versions of famous things, it’s pretty clear that there is enough interest that YouTuber’s may not be as outlandish of a career as it may seem. Though we still place a lot of focus on getting homework done and re-enforcing the concepts they’re learning through academic enrichment, one of the great strengths of our Afterschool Programs is the ability to explore other areas of interest and the relationship between art and technology.
At Brockbank Jr. High’s Afterschool Program, we have been teaming up throughout this school year with SpyHop and Community Arts of Utah to help further explore this concept. Through SpyHop, our youth have been learning how to program their own video games, create movie special effects and stop-motion animation. Because there is so much media readily available for consumption via the Internet and endless on-demand movie and television services, we sometimes forget—or never even consider—how much work goes into the songs, shows and games we enjoy every single day. It was definitely a bit of a shock for our kids at Brockbank to see just how much work they would actually have to put in to create a functional video game, but they took the challenge and ran with it. The special effects and stop motion classes were also very valuable, especially in teaching our program participants the value of patience and persistence—even if several hours of work went into a thirty second video, the pride and excitement they felt at seeing the finished product made it all worth it.
With Roger Whiting of Community Arts of Utah, Brockbank Jr. High’s Afterschool Program worked on a stop-motion lyric music video for singer/songwriter Lucy Scholl. The project spanned from September to November, with Roger and the kids tackling a different medium each week to tackle the project. In watching our program participants work on the music video, I was very proud to see these kids who might not interact with each other throughout the school day collaborating on this project. It was interesting to see the kids delegating responsibilities to one another, offer each other suggestions and think about the big picture. Watch Brockbank jr. High ASP’s video for “Feel Alright” by Lucy Scholl.
To celebrate all of our youth’s hard work in completing these projects, we held a Red Carpet Family Night on January 19th to showcase all of our video projects. SpyHop’s stop-motion and special effects videos were big hits, particularly the several videos of Star Wars-inspired lightning hands featuring several ASP participants. It was the first time any of the kids had seen the completed music video, and quickly turned into a chorus of “I did that!” as the video played and kids claimed ownership of the sections they worked on. After being reminded that the video was also on YouTube for the whole world to see, the kids immediately became even more proud of their work and insisted that I send a link to their parents right away so they could watch it again and share it at home.
Our Afterschool Programs are very fortunate to have formed strong partnerships with great organizations in our community. Even if our kids never become YouTube famous, hopefully we have showed them that every idea requires a lot of hard work—and a lot of hard work can lead to immense pride. For more information about all of Salt Lake County Youth Services Afterschool Programs please call 385-468-4500 or visit www.youth.slco.org.