Tuesday, May 10, 2011

ProCreativity Project with Sharman Haley & Joy Mapaye

Sharman Haley, Professor, ISER, and Joy Mapaye, Assistant Professor, Journalism & Public Communications, worked together for three years to put together a project that would address youth development with a vulnerable population of young women who became pregnant in their teens and to create media that would be used in teen pregnancy prevention. Earlier efforts with the Rasmusson Foundation and the Alaska State Arts Foundation became false starts that didn't seem to "get off the ground," and they started from scratch with the funding from CCEL to begin anew. "The grant from CCEL made it happen," Sharman told a group of faculty and staff at the April 13th Breakfast Colloquium, "it put us over the hurdle." The grant made it possible for them to pay for child care and to pay the film director, Betsy Douds. Betsy and Joy Mapaye taught the first 1 credit course in the Spring of 2010, giving students high school or college credit to learn story craft and film production to make short biographical films of their experiences as pregnant or parenting teens. In Fall 2010 the course was repeated at Crossroads Secondary School.

Ten of these young filmmakers had the opportunity to show their work at a January 29th premiere at Out North Theater, and they were joined by family and community members who came to see and discuss the films. Sharman and Joy, along with Betsy Douds, hope to continue the project to create a documentary that will be used for teen pregnancy prevention efforts aimed at middle school students locally. Sharman showed the faculty audience several film clips produced by a range of teenagers who were telling their stories. Some were more cautionary than others, as one teen mother emphasized the changes in her body and her social life, both unwelcome, even though she loved the baby. Some of the films emphasized the amount of care and the unanticipated demands of parenthood, while others reflected upon their interrupted adolescence, their dependence upon their own parents, and the unsurety about next steps in education, career, and lost opportunities.

Alice Friend and Sharman Haley produced a brief evaluation of the project. They emphasized that participants came from every walk of life and a diverse group of ethnicities, "highlighting the need for community wide support to tackle this problem." They stressed that "multiple participants agreed that if they regretted anything, it was the loss of their own childhood . . . unequivocal in their love for their child, however, stated that they wished they had delayed motherhood so as to enjoy their own youth." One goal of Sharman Haley's was to help the young women develop their voice and to be pro-active. The evaluation stated "the experience of documenting their journey into motherhood appeared to have given participants an intentional space to reflect upon their lives. They were the masters of their own story and were given complete control over how they portray their decisions."

The ProCreativity Project was a partnership between Out North Contemporary Art House, the UAA Department of Journalism and Public Communications, Crossroads Secondary School, Planned Parenthood, supported with grants from the UAA Center for Community Engagement & Learning, the Alaska Association of School Boards Initiative for Community Engagement, product donations from Best Buy, and individual donors.

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