Columbia's Nickelodeon Theater has now started making movies rather than just showing them. A group of Midlands students tried their hand at film-making and learned about community and themselves.
"Everyone has a story," Hesakahi McCoy said.
17-year-old McCoy has many different chapters in his book.
"I love sports. I play football at C.A. Johnson High School. I also play baseball for them, as well," he said.
And now McCoy and several classmates have taken on the role of filmmaker through the Nickelodeon's Helen Hill Media Education Center.
"At first it was a whole lot of learning how to use the camera and the tripod and stuff like that, so it was kind of when are we going to start filming," McCoy said.
Over the course of a school year, students were challenged to write a documentary with the theme "Come Around my Way," presenting how their neighborhoods have shaped the people they've become.
"Once you give students the opportunity, a lot of people don't give them the chance to speak, but once you give them the chance to share you learn so much more and you learn about all the difficulties that they face in addition to just learning," Director of Media Education Sherard Duvall said.
The topics ranged from living without a father, to being best friends.
"Other people who have not been around us, I think they're clueless to what we actually go through," McCoy said.
Over the weekend, the students were able to show off their work to the public in a free screening.
"This program it helped our friendship a whole lot and it made us get closer and then as far as community and stuff like that it makes me want to tell my story," McCoy said. "Get more people involved in stuff like this so we can be heard as kids and children. More youth involved in telling their story."
"We don't give students the credit they deserve. We don't give young people the credit they deserve. Especially young people that are dealing with serious social-economic issues," Duvall said. ":We often look at them a certain type of way, but if you give them the power to create, you'll understand they are more than capable of immensely powerful ideas and products."
The "Come Around My Way" project is a partnership with the Nickelodeon and C.A. Johnson High School.
The documentaries will be posted tomorrow on the Nickelodeon's website at www.Nickelodeon.org.