Youth participants from the 2015-16 Media Minds program

A bit of passion and commitment

October 19, 2017
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We don’t often focus on the impact that a community engagement project has on its creators. But whether it helps you clarify your goals or just gives you a little bit more hope for what can be accomplished in the world, as Jennifer Dao, program manager for Media Minds, shares with us: even a little inspiration can go a long, long way.

Tell us about Media Minds

Media Minds is one of the many projects from Enactus SFU that was created to have a positive impact in the community. Our organization works with local schools and community centers to provide team-based workshops that strive to help youth integrate into and engage with their community. Through the power of social entrepreneurship and film education, these workshops enhance their interpersonal and teamwork skills. We teach them fundamental filmmaking skills, such as storyboarding, filming, and editing, but the goal of our program is to help students develop skills like communication and teamwork to better transition them into the community. With a focus on group work and peer-to-peer mentorship, we provide youth with a creative outlet to share their stories.

When did you realize the importance of knowing how your project was impacting people, and what was that like for you?

Last year, I joined Media Minds as a workshop coordinator, where I was able to directly engage and interact with our participants. As the workshops progressed, I was able to get to know each student and watch their confidence and communication skills improve. But it was not until our Year End Film Festival that I realized how important this project actually is. Not only did I get to see how proud the students were of all their hard work, I was also able to see how happy they were to share their experience with their families and friends.

While this was an impactful moment for the participants, the family and friends were also impressed to see how much the students had developed and progressed throughout the duration of the project. Many of the participants’ parents/guardians reached out to us after the final event to ask if we could send them their child’s photos and film to keep for their own memories.

I’m sure I can speak for every member of Media Minds when I say that hosting these events is not only a memorable experience for the participants, but for us as well. What made it considerably memorable for me was that the video of the participants who I mentored throughout the workshops was voted “Best Movie”. You could definitely see the joy in their eyes and how proud they were of their hard work. This event has been a truly rewarding experience for me, as I was able to see just how much of an impact can be made with just a bit of passion and commitment.

What has been your biggest challenge working through your project?

One of our biggest challenges is being able to supply our workshops and Year End Film Festival with the appropriate equipment and other materials that we need to effectively engage our participants. We are currently using basic digital cameras for our workshops. And although they are fully functional and do the job, most of our participants have shared that the cameras are outdated. We also want to be able to recognize and appreciate our participants’ hard work with certificates and prizes at our final events. So, our team must actively search for grants and potential sponsors who appreciate our vision and want to support us. Although our past workshops and events have been successful, we are always looking for ways to improve our events to better the Media Minds experience for our participants!

Looking back, if there were one thing you could tell yourself at the beginning, what would it be?

Media Minds is not like most other after-school programs, which usually focus on being physically active or on extending school learning. Not only does Media Minds teach students basic filmmaking skills and techniques, we are able to give them a way to share their individuality and creativity, something that will ultimately help to build their self-confidence and other soft skills that they will find essential in their future endeavors.

With this in mind, if I could tell myself one thing at the beginning, it would be to not underestimate how much creativity and focus these students put into their work! After watching any one of our past participants’ videos, you will see that they can do anything they put their minds to!

Media Minds was the Grand Award winner in the 2016 SFU Student Community Engagement Competition. Take a look at the Enactus SFU website to learn more, and check out their 2015-16 program’s Vimeo page to see the kinds of stories they help bring to life.