Amplifying the Voices of Brooklyn Youth: King’s County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Youth Initiatives, HITN, and DIYdoc

We are proud to announce our most recent and ambitious project to date.

Partnering with HITN and the Kings County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Youth Initiatives, we have worked together to launch a digital storytelling workshop series utilizing DIYdoc.

HITN and DIYdoc are proud to have partnered with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Youth Initiatives, whose work focuses in large part on the prevention of juvenile crime by providing intelligent counsel and programs that open lines of communication between young people, law enforcement and educators for Brooklyn’s at risk youth. Working together, we have launched a cutting edge digital storytelling initiative utilizes the DIYdoc smartphone app to enable young people to produce professional quality videos on their phones, share them with their peers and community on social networks and to create a platform for positive, responsible engagement between our youth and the prosecutor’s office. We are excited that the Brooklyn Bureau of Youth Initiatives has joined us in our vision to help young people and educators use technology innovation and social media for real world impact and positive change.

The pilot program, a Digital Storytelling Workshop, for Brooklyn youth focuses on the cycle of online cyberbullying and retaliation that all too often escalates to delinquency and arrests, including cyber-banging, sexting, gun violence, suicide and other troubling online trends that adversely affect at-risk youth in marginalized communities in Brooklyn and across the country. While most of us view cyberbullying from a personal perspective, the Kings County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Youth Initiatives is tackling this challenge in a visionary way by enabling young people in the community to share their solutions to this challenge directly with the prosecutor’s office. DIYdoc and the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, Inc. (HITN) are providing youth and schools with an easy to use app based platform and digital templates that will let young people share stories on how issues like this are affecting their lives and their community, while enabling them to learn about social justice by defining and sharing their own solutions.

DIYdoc’s is a technology company made up of app and media Producers with a mission to enable young people to use inexpensive smartphones, that are widely available, to understand filmmaking better and create high quality films that matter. Their templated filmmaking methodology helps young people to utilize the narrative structures that filmmakers use while focusing on the stories they want to tell, not the tools needed to tell the stories.

David Grandison Jr. a video Producer, and co-founder of DIYdoc, taught a pilot workshop for the program, at the HITN studios in early August 2017. The program was a three day seminar on digital storytelling and filmmaking. He used a project-based approach to help a group of almost 20 HITN interns learn the processes and strategies that filmmakers and advertisers use to tell effective stories that motivate audiences to act. The program enabled the young people to learn about the issues surrounding cyberbullying by creating PSA’s and News Stories to help the DA share information in ways that resonate most with Brooklyn teens. The teens worked in small production teams that learned the process of script writing, storyboarding, and finally shooting their stories in and around the Brooklyn Navy yards where HITN is based. The project-based curriculum that David has created groups students into small production teams consisting of a “producer”, a “writer” and a “videographer”, to simulate real-world video production and provide exposure to the production process film makers use.

The interns shot their videos with iPod touch devices equipped with the free DIYdoc app. Teams were allowed to use teleprompter apps on iPads which are a part of digital filmmaking kits provided by HITN as well. The DIYdoc app based strategy, facilitated the process of teaching video production by allowing the students to focus on the storytelling and not learning to use the expensive tools many filmmakers use. This cooperative approach enables students to learn to use inexpensive mobile technology to tell powerful well thought out stories.

David and John Carlin (Co-Founder of DIYdoc and Founder of are working closely with Dr. Ed Greene and Julia Mair of HITN, Bobbi Brown and Ed Pichardo Esq, the Chief of Youth Diversion Programs at Kings County District Attorneys Office to create opportunities for Brooklyn youth to solve real world problems that can lead to incarceration. This partnership is enabling Brooklyn youth to help their community while learning about social justice via a real world video challenges, where their voices can be heard by a local and global audience. We ultimately are teaching them to become community advocates and “change makers” at a time when many youth feel their voices and choices don’t matter. Our pilot with HITN interns is just the start and it will enable us to improve both the app and the program. The youth ultimately provided a great deal of positive feedback on the approach and offered many ideas to improve the pilot program prior to its launch in Brooklyn Schools in the fall. Here is an example of a PSA that was created in the program.

HITN, America’s only Spanish-language, nonprofit, public-service media network, works to advance the educational, cultural and socio-economic aspirations of U.S. Latinos through quality, authentic programming on-air, online and on the ground in communities. The cycle of cyberbullying is especially devastating to Hispanic teens, 32% of whom report going online “almost constantly.” (Pew) HITN is changing the game by becoming the first DIYdoc partner that is considering broadcasting our videos to a national audience. This should be a huge motivator to youth to create great films.

By David Grandison Jr.

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