Teens and the YES story
Guns in school. Drugs. Gangs. Loneliness and AIDS.
Can we give teens more than simple clichés? Can we give them
something that works?
That's just the question a group of youth leaders
asked themselves. The answer? YES -- Youth Entertainment Studios,
a youth development program that surrounds teens at risk with positive
ideas and people.
Here's how it began: In 1991 the youth leaders
challenged a group of teens from a public housing community to work
together to make a music video with a positive message. They did.
The teens' music video, Steppin' Into The Light, was so powerful
it aired on Black Entertainment Television, The Family Channel and
other national networks.
Shortly after this YES was born. Today, through
digital multimedia studios,and summer camps teens have a way off
the streets. And it's working!
YES was started with the help of teens. In fact,
a teen came up with the YES name. Today YES teens pour their imagination,
sweat and hearts into every project.
Not only do teens learn to set and
reach goals YES, but they also share the results of their work with
family, friends and the community.
YES Community Studios are located in the heart
of low-income neighborhoods and target the hard-to-reach adolescent
and teen (middle and high school ages) population. Young people
are engaged in music recording, web publishing, graphic design,
TV production, and marketing activities. Studio sessions are a way
to build strong, lasting relationships between responsible, caring
adults and youths considered at-risk. The studios are tactical offensive
weapons that impact youth by creatively using the following three
building blocks: Culture; Education; and Character
The hallmark of YES' strategy is to embrace urban
youth culture as the principle way to reach teenagers at-risk in
order to re-direct them toward character development and education.
Today, hip-hop culture influences every facet of the entertainment
media popular among urban youth through music, language, dance,
art and video production. YES Community Studios cultivates the interests
of teens in hip hop culture and involves music, script development,
video production, and Web publishing. These studios in effect are
miniature "Multimedia Motowns."
Hip-Hop culture, in large measure, is about taking
care of your business. Successful Hip-Hop artists like Master P,
Puffy, Missy Elliot, and others embody this entrepreneurial spirit.
Even gangster life, at the core, has a take-care-of-business attitude.
The YES Operational Approach must be consistent with the rules of
the culture if it is to be successful.
YES Community Studios are run like businesses;
multimedia entertainment companies with many satellite offices.
Within a short time, young people should see very little difference
between Russell Simmons' Def Jam Records and YES Music Studios.
YES Community Studios will equip the young people with an appreciation
for the rules of the legitimate business world and help instill
appropriate work ethic and job readiness skills.
Teens learn more than technical skills using YES
digital sound mixing boards. They also gain life lessons in self-confidence,
open communication and respect for others.
Professionals from all kinds of
businesses volunteer with YES. Volunteers tap into teens' interest
in music, video and the Net to open young eyes to new possibilities.
The overwhelming presence of technology at virtually
every level of the entertainment industry provides a strong platform
for linking the excitement of entertainment to education. Specifically,
at YES Community Studios every young person is encouraged to learn
how to operate all of the equipment. Young people will be required
to launch their own web site that can show off their creative masterpieces.
As such, they become familiar with technology in a way that is practical
As a consequence of working side by side with
responsible, caring adults to complete projects, the young people
learn critical thinking, oral and written communication, and discipline.
To complete their projects they must collaborate with others and
engage in problem solving.
| Character Development
The Philadelphia-based youth development research
firm, Public/Private Ventures, conducted effectiveness studies of
youth programs over a ten-year period. They found that organizations
such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Boys and Girls Clubs had the
greatest impact with youngsters (ages 6-11) largely as a result
of their emphasis on traditional mentoring activities. YES desires
similar outcomes with adolescents and teens, helping them reach
their full potential through encouraging relationships with responsible,
caring adults in a safe environment.
Time spent discussing projects, working in the
studio or just chillin' in the lounge area is purposefully constructed
to lead toward the intellectual, character and spiritual development
of the youths. Self respect, concern for others and community service
are other core values stressed by the YES Community Studios Model.
The collaborative nature of the production process demands a high
degree of social interaction on a variety of levels - interpersonal
relationships, relationships within the studio "family," and community
relations activities essential to building a following. As the young
people work through the process of bringing a product to market,
their successes and failures become object lessons.
YES Sites provide teens with a safe place to experience
teamwork, gets hands-on experience with professional music, video
and computer technology, plus be uplifted by responsible, caring