12702 EF: South Side Stories: Using Digital Storytelling to Communicate the Experiences of Youth of Color on the South Side of Chicago

06/13/2015 @ 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
The Wiltern B

Organizers: Melissa Gilliam, Ashlyn Sparrow
Presenters: Melissa Gilliam, Ashlyn Sparrow, Patrick Jagoda

Digital stories – short multimedia videos relating rich personal narratives – have the ability to capture the public interest and compel engagement on behalf of equality. Historically used to document and preserve communal stories and histories, develop leaders, and give voice to marginalized groups, digital stories are created via a series of media-intensive workshops facilitated by educators. A digital storytelling workshop’s core is its story circle: an empowerment-based process that elicits stories in response to a series of oral and written prompts. Participants craft a script and use video editing tools to integrate images, effects, and music. The final product is a short video akin to an in-depth interview, memoir, or poem.

South Side Stories, a project of the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3) supported by the Ford Foundation, uses digital stories to explore how identity, space, and context shape young people’s sense of self, relationships, sexuality, and health (physical, mental, sexual and reproductive). These stories convey the lived experiences and resilience of young people growing up on the South Side of Chicago, one of the most racially segregated and isolated communities in the U.S. In our work, we have found that experiences with stigma and segregation, as well as violence and victimization, profoundly influence youths’ perceptions of themselves, their futures, the societal roles they can inhabit, and the resources available to them.

Through South Side Stories, Ci3 pairs digital stories with contextual research and community dialogue to reframe discourse and policy, transform the environments in which youth live, and create safe spaces for youth. We collaborate with three local youth-serving organizations: Global Girls, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s Youth Development Program, and the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus.

Several South Side Stories reflect the experiences of navigating multiple identities as young gay Black men, alluding to challenges in finding acceptance and a sense of community. We believe that awareness of this multiple minority experience is critical for healthcare providers and others who care for these young people’s health outcomes. In response, we are developing a curriculum for health professionals and educators that will build on several stories, discuss the influence of multiple minority status on health, and identify opportunities to improve cultural competence, increase equity and supportive services, and leverage the resilience and potential of young LGBT people of color.

For the 2015 Digital Media and Learning Conference, we propose an interactive workshop in which participants will learn about our process for analyzing digital stories in the context of relevant research into social and environmental determinants of young people’s health. We will then screen several additional stories, provide context from the research literature, and then facilitate a discussion among participants on how the stories could be used as tools to amplify the voices and visibility of the storytellers for
audiences who could take action – individual or institutional – to address inequalities and health disparities.

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