Summer Programs 2002:
  Truth, Respect & Unity

By Dayla Brown

On June 24th Youth Entertainment Studios (YES) embarked on the eighth annual YES Summer Programs. YES uses all forms of media arts and technology projects to capture the attention of urban youth and direct them toward personal and educational development.

YES Summer Programs and workshop sessions were sponsored by Empowerment 2010, Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority, Norfolk State University (NSU), Chesapeake Community Services Board, Refuge C.O.G.I.C., and F.O.R. Kids. YES ran seven programs serving over 200 youth from the Chesapeake and Norfolk areas of Virginia.

Sponsors had the option of choosing a variety of media arts and technology related instructional sessions to incorporate into their programs.

“We had a blast! I’m gonna miss those kids,” was the response of one of the staff members, Joseph Brown (YES Alum), to his experience working with the students at the NSU Program. Shawn Brown the Empowerment 2010 Camp Director remarked, “It was outstanding. The kids had a sense that they belonged to something great.”

S. Harry Young, Danene Washington and Mark Reeves (YES Co-Founders) and Dayla Brown (Director of Summer Programs), along with fifteen other staff members (of whom seven are YES Alumni) and two interns were the force behind this intense summer program schedule. Though each of the Summer Programs required a unique curriculum and worked with diverse groups of youth, they all operated with the same YES goals of empowerment, education, and mentoring and were based on the principals of truth, respect, and unity.

At the Norfolk State University Brambleton Outreach Center, Mark Reeves (a YES Co-Founder) along with three YES Alumni Staff members worked to make this summer an unforgettable experience for 35 eleven and twelve year old kids attending the NSU.

The twelve-session music industry module included a trip to a major radio station, training on computer-based music production equipment, studio recording at the William A. Hunton studio, and the YES Refuge Studio, and songwriting instruction. “The kids loved it,” Joseph Brown said, “one day we came in and they were already making music tracks on the computer equipment after just learning it the day before.”

At the NSU Camp, the staff added that “the only downfall of the Program was that they could have used more time each day. The kids loved learning about the music industry with young adults they could relate to, they just wanted more of it!”

At the Empowerment 2010 sponsored YES Hip-Hop Music Camp also ran music industry sessions for the kids. The camp involved middle school students from the Norfolk Empowerment Zone. The two-week day camp format included a two-day and night stay on the college campus of Old Dominion University.

At the 2010 camp, the students had a chance to spend more time learning about the industry and developing relationships with the staff members. Aaron, a YES Alum Staff intern, said, “We had fun, but they respected me and what I could teach them. They felt like I gave them confidence.” Another YES Alum Staff member, Greg, added, “I helped them do some of the things they thought they couldn’t do. They looked up to me…No one’s ever looked up to me before.”

Headed by Camp Director, Shawn Brown, twenty-seven students were divided into four record companies each headed by four advisors: Kourtnee Green, Percy Price, Leroy Young and Tanisha Johnson (YES Alum). Each company was responsible for selecting an artist and music track, managing a simulated budget, developing their artist image, writing lyrics and arranging vocals for the song, choreographing their stage performance, and creating and presenting their marketing packages. They also had guest artists ranging from songwriters, producers, artists, counselors, and voice and performance instructors speak with them throughout the camp as well. The students also left with a CD featuring all the students’ songs and radio spots they produced. According to Jessica, “It was the only time I was able to shine…and do something

I like to do.” James Bond added, “Teachers always said I couldn’t work in groups because I
was too hyper and I got angry fast. But I learned that I could work well on a team. I just had to control the way I acted.” Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority sponsored a 12-session program, run at four different community centers. There were
between five and fifteen kids at each community center ranging in age from eight to fourteen. The kids in each community were given an overview of the music industry, taught the songwriting process and how to record their songs in the music studio.

During the songwriting sessions, the two YES Alumni Staff members, Joe and Brenae, remarked that it went very well. The kids wrote their songs and the staff helped them put it into the correct grammatical and lyrical structure. At the end, the kids were proud to say they wrote and produced their own songs.

The staff expressed that the kids in Chesapeake loved the program because it gave them a chance to express themselves and have their voices heard. Some of the kids enjoyed the program so much they even tried to attend the sessions at the other Chesapeake community centers.

Sponsored by Chesapeake Community Services Board, Aronica Glover headed the “NO Smoking” Video Production module. She was assisted by Linwood Whitehead, a YES Alum Staff member, who commented, “The kids were inspired. When we first met them they thought it’d be boring but as we got started the kids got really excited…they were there ready to work even before we got there each day.”

The “No Smoking” video project took place in four Chesapeake communities running six video production sessions at each community center. The youth learned camera operation, directing, set management, set design, story and script development, editing, and audience analysis. Through the screenwriting process they learned how to brainstorm. Rather than coming up with easier, simple ideas, they had to become creative. They had to stretch themselves to think of ideas and stories which would influence their peer audience.

“The kids had a great time. It was an amazing success. They had a sense of respect for what they worked together to accomplish,” said Linwood. Aronica added, “The kids learned how to work together. They realized they couldn’t all do what they wanted to do. They came together and became a team.”

YES has much to look forward to. In addition to the already successful music and video camps, they are looking forward to running sportcasting and Internet technology camps during the school year and next summer. According to Camp Director Shawn Brown, “I have never seen a program like YES reach so many youth in such a personal way. For the first time in many of their lives, someone has faith in them and sticks with them no matter what. Regardless of the home life they woke up to that morning, YES makes them feel like they can achieve what they never thought possible.”

 

 

 

“We had a blast! I’m gonna miss those kids.”

 

 

The kids loved learning about the music industry with young adults they could relate to, they just wanted more of it!”

 

 

 

“Teachers always said I couldn’t work in groups because I was too hyper and I got angry fast. But I learned that I could work well on a team. I just had to control the way I acted.”

 

 

 

“The kids had a great time. It was an amazing success. They had a sense of respect for what they worked together to accomplish.”

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