What does it mean to be civic? That’s what students at the Buffalo Youth Media Institute wanted to know. In order to find out, young people hit the streets of Buffalo, to ask public servants what it meant to them to be “civically engaged”, and what drove them to want to serve the community.
Civic community leaders featured in the film include:
- Mayor of the City of Buffalo Byron Brown
- University at Buffalo Civil Engagement Academy Barbara Bono
- Teens In Progress Paulette Chapman
- US Congressman Brian Higgins
- New York State Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes
- Former City of Buffalo Common Council President James Pitts
- City of Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen
- New York State Senator Chris Jacobs
- New York State Senator Tim Kennedy
- Citizen Action of New York Samantha Nephew
- Partnership for the Public Good Sarah Wooten
Aside from learning what motivated public leaders, the project itself also benefitted these young people another way. Throughout the process of making the documentary, they were taught a number of skills that relate to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). All of these lessons/skills add up, and help the students to build their professional portfolios, while giving them valuable experiences in lucrative job fields.
THE CIVIC HEART powered by AT&T, BCAT and Squeaky Wheel, is a documentary that is comprised of the heartfelt thoughts and reactions by community leaders, when asked to break down what the role of being civic minded meant to them.
“AT&T is proud to support the production of this inspiring film and to provide an opportunity for these impressive young minds to share their unique perspective and artistic vision on civic engagement and duty in Western New York and I thank the elected officials and community civic leaders for participating in this film and sharing their personal insight and civic drive with the students,” said Kevin Hanna, director, External Affairs, AT&T. “As the world’s economy continues to transform at a robust pace — requiring a workforce with a focus on technological education and literacy — STEM programs like this one that provide immersive learning environments are vital to ensure that the students of today are equipped with the transformational skills needed to compete in the global innovation economy of tomorrow.”
This short documentary explores the reasons why people have chosen their paths to serve our community and perhaps more importantly what fuels their passion and continues to engage their hearts.
The “civic” theme was chosen because of Buffalo’s moniker “The City of Good Neighbors”. It’s also very timely to consider the meaning of the word, as it relates to our tumultuous social and political climate. If we can impress upon young people, the need to be civic minded, while teaching life skills along the way, they will ultimately live much richer and happier lives.
NYS Assemblyman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, who participated in the film, said, “I am impressed by the maturity of these young people and their ability to take on such a project. AT&T, BCAT and Squeaky Wheel should be commended for their dedication to their students!”
Da’Von McCune BCAT Youth Coordinator said, “We are so thrilled with the work and dedication from all of the students on this project. It has been inspiring to see their teacher Kevin bring out the best in each of the students as individuals while bringing them together to create a team.”
Kevin Kline, Education Director, Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center added, “This is our 15th year running the Buffalo Youth Media Institute (BYMI) providing media literacy and training in media arts to the youth in the City of Buffalo. Each year we set out to create a project that engages the students with different aspects of their city. This year was an exceptional group of youth and a very daunting project that allowed the kids to grow, become leaders and find a platform for their voices through the media arts.”
AT&T’s $20,000 contribution to support this film and STEM program is part of the company’s legacy of supporting educational programs focused on STEM and emerging technology disciplines in New York. The support was made possible by AT&T Aspire, the company’s signature $400 million philanthropic initiative that drives innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear on the issue including funding, technology, employee volunteerism and mentoring. Aspire is one of the nation’s largest corporate commitments focused on school success and workforce readiness by creating new learning environments and educational delivery systems to help students succeed and prepare them to take on 21st century careers.