At MAP, we teach film-making around socially relevant topics. But it’s more than that. We’re taking young people who live in some very fragile circumstances and teaching them what it means to be a leader in their community. Our programs are designed over the course of 16 weeks to empower youth with the fundamental qualities that make great leaders.
This semester, we’re working on two projects at two different Austin middle schools. At Mendez Middle School we’re producing a video on Dropout Prevention. One out of every four youth in this country drops out of school before they graduate, and this is a terrible outcome for youth, but it is equally damaging for communities. Dropouts earn less money. A student who does not graduate high school is eligible for only 10% of American jobs. Approximately 75% of inmates in corrections were dropouts. Dropouts are more likely to become parents too soon. They are destined to live in poverty and the economic implications for society are horrendous.
At Paredes Middle School we are working on a video about a program that teaches youth leadership. AVID (Advancement through Individual Determination) teaches youth the habits that can support them as they continue their education and advance in their lives. Teaching our youth that they can be leaders is an ambitious task. For most of them, their environments simply do not support or demonstrate qualities of leadership.
One of the biggest mistakes we make as a society is to believe that leaders are born. Leaders are not born. They are made. They are carefully crafted, nurtured, guided, and developed. But how does film-making teach leadership? We believe there are 7 qualities that make great leaders: Vision, Cooperation, Focus, Strategic Planning, Humility, Integrity and Courage. Film-making requires all of these qualities in abundance and the process provides many opportunities for youth to practice and engage these qualities. It’s an incredibly creative process and a demanding one. It takes the ability to see something that does not yet exist (VISION) and to work with others to bring it to life (COOPERATION). It requires an intense concentration on the topic at hand (FOCUS) and the ability to set goals and lay out a path to achieve them (STRATEGIC PLANNING). Humility, integrity and courage are about learning to ask for help, and the ability to say, I don’t know. Leadership is about being teachable. It’s about a desire to learn.
All of this takes great courage from our youth and it’s an amazing thing to be a part of as we watch them grow throughout the semester!