By Anne Keyes
Over 50 youth and adults gather at YSM to see the premiere of “Ride or Die” an 8-minute drama that tackles youth drug use in St. James Town. Produced by our own YUVA (Youth United in Visionary Action) Summer Action Team, the drama tackles youth drug use in the St. James Town community and the violent consequences of gang involvement. See “Ride or Die” for yourself – the goal now is to get 150 Facebook ‘likes’ posted by mid-July by youth in the community.
The project was realized as a Regent Park Film Festival workshop. “They did so well and were so committed,” said Richard Fung, workshop program facilitator; “the group spent five weeks developing the story and training on the equipment, and it looks so good!”
The youth actors/writers/producers took part in a panel discussion after the viewing to discuss smart ways to prevent gangs and drug use in Toronto, providing thoughtful answers to questions posed by their peers.
Youth from the Richmond Hill World Vision Action Cluster were special guests of the evening. Our goal was to engage them in the dialogue and to thank them for supporting YUVA through their fundraising efforts. There was also a time of sharing between the YUVA Action Team, recent YUVA grads, and Richmond Hill students as they independently formed a talking circle in the middle of the party room to facilitate more discussion.
We look forward to connecting again with the Richmond Hill students to continue our dialogue and to inspire more youth-led initiatives in both communities. The YUVA film will be shared with youth in St. James Town and surrounding communities via Facebook and YouTube to get 150 “likes” and “views” to help to encourage other youth to say “no” to drug use and gang violence. The youth plan to showcase their advocacy skills by hosting more screenings in order to catalyze more youth-led activism initiatives amongst their peers, and to inspire other youth to think differently about gang violence and drug use.
What do you think of the message in this production?