Merlene Davis: 'I DO' program becoming year-round initiative

Youths learn about filmmaking, drums

Herald-Leader columnistJuly 24, 2012 

  • If you go

    Spotlight on Youth: Highlights young people who participated in summer programming in the Cardinal Valley, East End, Gainesway, Winburn and Woodhill communities.

    When: July 31. Resource fair at 6 p.m.; youth showcase at 7 p.m.

    Where: Lyric Theatre, 300 E. Third St.

    Information: Email Laura Hatfield at

After working with professionals and college students this summer, there just might be an award-winning filmmaker residing in the Winburn subdivision.

Each Thursday evening, groups of middle school students gathered at Russell Cave Christian Church to film a short video that will be submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Seeing My World through a Safer Lens" annual video contest.

This year's videos are to answer the question, "What does injury and violence prevention look like in my community?"

For weeks, the youth have documented efforts in their neighborhood that make the community safer. They had to design the concept and then film and edit the video. They are producing a public service announcement and a short documentary of their experience.

The theme of the video is hurtful words, said John Kim, manager of the Violence Prevention Initiative at St. Joseph Hospital/KentuckyOne. The organization collaborated with Winburn for the summer activities.

"The kids came up with that unique concept," he said. "It's 'Angry Words,'" a play on the popular video game Angry Birds.

The video will be shown at the "Spotlight on Youth" event planned at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center on July 31. That event will highlight several youth groups that have participated in various activities in the East End, Gainesway, Woodhill, Cardinal Valley and Winburn subdivisions this summer as a part of the "I DO" initiative. I DO stands for identifying opportunities, developing relationships and organizing partnerships and is an outgrowth of the work of the Commission on Youth Development and Public Safety, which was formed last summer after a few violent episodes in and around downtown Lexington involving youths.

Laura Hatfield, executive director of the Partners for Youth group that is coordinating the I DO program, said the initiative is a collaboration of various faith-based organizations and youth advocacy groups. Also involved are the parks and recreation department and Fayette County Public schools. In all, they've created about 50 activities including sports, arts and crafts, and music that could keep youth engaged while school is out.

Hatfield said Partners for Youth pulled together all the groups that had implemented programs and others wanting to start new things. St. Joseph Hospital and Winburn are one example of groups coming together to fulfill a need.

"We looked at what the current programs are and where the gaps were," she said.

As a carrot to bring the youths back each week, organizers promised to showcase their work on stage at the Lyric at the end of the summer.

But no one wants those programs to end just because school is about to start.

So at the Spotlight for Youth event, Hatfield said, organizations will be advertising activities that will be ongoing through the winter months as well.

"There will be community commercials running in between each performance," she said. "We want to get the word out to the youth and their families about what is happening this fall."

Beginning at 6 p.m., 20 non-profit organizations will set up in the lobby of the Lyric and pass out information about programs that will continue after the summer. Then at 7 p.m., the youths will take the stage.

Some will be performing step routines, playing musical instruments and dancing.

"We want these kids to be showcased," Hatfield said. "They don't always have the opportunity to be in the spotlight."

Kim said they partnered with Winburn because of the strong leadership that existed there.

"Our focus is on youth violence — the kids that need some resources to enable them to find something that would put them on a better path," Kim said.

He said his organization began working with the Winburn neighborhood last year, looking at data and asking what the community wanted to see happen there.

Then the Rev. Fred Mitchell opened the doors of Russell Cave Christian Church, and the Thursday gatherings began.

Arthur Rouse, coordinator of the filmmaking certificate program at Bluegrass Community and Technical College and owner of Video Editing Services, taught the youngsters video techniques. Another volunteer taught African drums, and neighborhood volunteers made sure food was plentiful. There are also Zumba classes and family storytelling.

"It was important to let the community know there is a safe haven," Kim said. "We need families and kids to come and we can foster them together.

"It is not easy to get parents involved, but if you build it, they will come."

Merlene Davis: (859) 231-3218. Email: Twitter: @reportmerle. Blog:

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