The Teen Media Initiative

on July 24, 2014

By Emma Gerch, LACAC Intern for Inside Out Community Arts

The Teen Media Initiative (TMI) is one of the newest programs acquired by P.S. ARTS in its merger with Inside Out Community Arts.  TMI gives teenagers exposure to digital media education outside of school and will be part of P.S. ARTS’ Extended Learning programs.  As the Los Angeles County Arts Commission intern, I have had the opportunity to work closely with TMI, and I’m excited I got to see it in action!

The TMI summer session wrapped up last week at Da Vinci Design High School in Hawthorne. The vibrantly-decorated art classroom was buzzing with activity for five straight days from 8am to 12pm as five high school students – our “Teen Techies” –  worked to complete the TakePART Initiative’s very first website. The TakePART Initiative, facilitated by P.S. ARTS, is a partnership between arts organizations, philanthropic partners, and school districts to promote arts education as essential to schools and communities.

The TMI program gives the Teen Techies a toolkit to succeed professionally in an increasingly digital world. During the school year, the teens learned how to set up LinkedIn profiles, construct marketing campaigns via social media, and build websites in WordPress. This week, in addition to perfecting their WordPress skills, the teens learned Javascript and CSS coding with a volunteer instructor from the tech industry who also gave our students advice on pursuing a career in software engineering. The teens also heard from guests involved in events planning and arts education, and participated in various community building activities.

I had an opportunity to meet with the Teen Techies, and they were seriously in their element during this summer session. After learning about the TakePART Initiative, the Teen Techies worked independently as well as in teams to fill in the new website with content and appropriate pages according to feedback from the TakePART Leadership Team. With only a few hours to work each day, the teens accomplished a tremendous amount: they built photo galleries, contact pages, header images, and attention-grabbing taglines, and continued to fine-tune their pages throughout the week. They incorporated skills they learned during the academic year, including widget customization and graphic design.

By the end of the week, the five Teen Techies built two separate entire websites for the TakePART Initiative to present to the Leadership Team. On Friday, the students, dressed in their best, completely blew away the TakePART team with a professional presentation of each website they built. They showed off their hard work, demonstrated the merits of different web design options, and answered tough questions about website structure. The TakePART leaders were thrilled to see their important work represented in a sleek, professional, and attractive way. The site will officially go live later this summer.

At the end of the summer session, our Teen Techies were asked to provide written feedback on what they had learned during their experience. One of our newest TMI students, Teen Techie Sofia, said, “I took this experience to learn about what kind of person I want to grow up to be; I have learned that when you are bursting with positive energy, that energy touches everyone around you to make a better environment.”  It is evident from her response that these students are learning much more than simply technology skills in the Teen Media Initiative program.

One of my ongoing projects this summer is to develop curriculum materials for the TMI program going forward, including lessons in graphic design and video editing. I’m so excited to see what this talented group of students will go on to accomplish.

P.S. ARTSThe Teen Media Initiative