I was invited by Stephen Gardner of Gardner Productions to attend the fifth anniversary of a tremendous program called Presenting Our Vision or POV; a not-for-profit charity that assists economically and socially marginalized youth gain the skills and experience needed to secure employment in film, television and commercial production. What I LOVE about this program is two things. First it is industry-driven and second that those creating, fostering and supporting this charity do not only focus on teaching the technical skills rather there is a huge emphasis on life skills/soft skills.

The charity was and probably still is a work in progress that has brought people in the film industry together who want to give back. Edie Weiss, Jeff Kopas, Scott MacKenzie and Marcello Cabezas joined forces to create this incredible charity and their programs. Edie’s husband, Stephen Weinman, works with the kids and teaches them the soft skills needed for success in life; personally and professionally. From what I heard from the youth at the event is this is one of the great benefits of the this program – learning to express yourself, work in teams and collaborate and most important creating relationships.

I was so blown away with what I saw for many reasons. I love that it is industry-driven and that people within the film industry understand the importance of mentoring, guiding, letting kids fail and learn, giving kids a second chance when otherwise they would not have this, teaching them valuable life skills and soft skills which will create the foundation for their success. They have gone two steps further and put an intern component so that the youth can take their knowledge and experience and really create value in their field of choice for a company – allowing them to see their worth as human beings and contributors of their world. And finally the Alumni program which ensures that all those kids benefiting today and in the five years past will also give back, as they have received, and share their experiences, fears, trials and tribulations and also their successes. Being a mentor after being the mentee is amazing. It also gives these kids another life skill – leadership.

I cannot wait to sit down and share with Steven my book and how I truly believe our visions with the youth are in sync; find a way to collaborate.

I feel that POV is a shining example of how our education system needs to function – focus on the technical to give kids the hands on skill but also put an emphasis on the life skills and soft skills for it is these skills that they will take throughout their life and make your choices – ultimately creating the life you desire.

At the event the kids had a chance to showcase their work. Each youth took on a role within the creating and filming of the short film: Fairview House (I think that was the name of it). It was well done — a little creepy for my personal liking however this would be the start of a great horror film. After the viewing there was question and answer. The kids did okay. It was a little overwhelming and as we know of the youth they are not the greatest communicators. There were some very influential and powerful people in the film industry that attended that night and hopefully the kids showcased their talent and made their desires known for future work prospects. The POV team also asked for companies who want to be part of the intern program to make themselves known. What a great way to ease both sides into a working relationship.

I did have a chance to speak to a few of the 2012 graduating class: Joseph “Jo Jo” Salami, Ellias Osman, Brandon Korevaarm, Sean Gordon and Mammie Water. I told them what a tremendous job they did and that they should be proud of their work. To celebrate their success. Also to take this incredible experience and create a story that they can share to future employers – and through this story differentiate themselves from their competitors. To never give up and really “hear” what was shared that night, that it is never one big moments that leads to our success, rather it is baby steps and lots of failure and success that takes us to the next level. I told them that their path is no different from mine. I also asked them to stop thinking of themselves as at-risk kids or marginalized kids – that this is label that is not who they are. I informed them that wealthy kids can be “at-risk” in their own way. They too suffer from anxiety and depression, especially what is going on today in the workplace. And finally that I too need to do the same things that they do to succeed. I shared with them my book for youth, Were not gonna take it: A youth’s tool bag of essential life skills for transitioning from high school to post-secondary education to the workplace. They seemed very interested and supportive of this book.

I walked away from this night so motivated and inspired. I know that my work is so timely and divine. I cannot wait to work with collaborators that have similar vision and mission for our youth – let’s give them the tools and resources to succeed in life and to challenge and change our systems and create a world that makes sense for today.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful weekend. Please take time to look at the POV link. With the sales of my book this is a youth program that I will choose to support and others like it.

For those in the US enjoy your long weekend. I hope you have amazing weather.

There is a lot to be grateful for.

All my love,

Sandra

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