On Wednesday, March 21st, PYD youth and staff participated in Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 Boston, a Disability & Media Summit featuring expert panelists and professionals from Google, BBDO, National Disability Mentoring Coalition, PolicyWorks and Futuro Media Group as well as others in the entertainment and media industries to help mentor, motivate, EMPOWER, and network with aspiring professional college students, recent graduates, and career transitioning youth with disabilities.
According to the 2016 Ruderman Foundation White Paper, “95% of television characters with disabilities are portrayed by non-disabled actors. Under-representation of people with disabilities exists in ALL forms of traditional media, broadcast and entertainment, as well as emerging digital platforms in front of and behind the scenes. This stark under-representation contributes to a severe lack of professional media role models for youth with disabilities and perpetuates the myth of “invisibility” of people with disabilities.”
Because of the snow storm the panel and workshop portions of the summit were converted to a virtual webinar, and the employer and flash mentoring one-on-one sessions will be rescheduled at northeastern university later this year.
“The meeting was very good – learned a lot in there and it gave me some thoughts about my craft”-LCA2.0 Participant and actor Josh Jones.
LCA2.0 collaborative objectives include 1. Increase employment of people with disabilities in front of or behind the camera 2. Improve disability portrayals and having people with disabilities tell and share their story and 3. Enhance accessible entertainment.
At the same time, the core goal is to help participants get a head start in their passion and how to brand themselves and be part of a mentoring pipeline with professionals who share their experience.
Tari Hartman Squire, co-founder of LCA2.0, provided us a statement on the experience of bringing LCA2.0 to fruition and the roadblocks faced in the process:
“The only thing constant in life is change. This is particularly true in developing a career in media, no matter what genre or delivery platform – television, movies, advertising, theater, news or internet-based, including video games. Flexibility and creative solutions are key.
That is why we were excited to bring LCA2.0 Summit to Boston. LCA2.0 is a dynamic gathering where aspiring media professionals meet media employers and mentors with disabilities for resume review, speed interviews, flash mentoring, “How to Make it in the Media” panel discussion and two self-awareness and career-building workshops, Network and Mentoring presented by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition; and Self-Disclosure and Leveraging Your Disability to Sharpen Your Competitive Edge” presented by PolicyWorks.
Despite the snow, the show went on – virtually. After a warm welcome from Northeastern University’s Career Development and Disability Services Offices and the ReelAbilities Film Festival Boston, Google, BBDO, Futuro Media Group, and Deaf Film Camp along with our collaborators Northeastern University, ReelAbilities Film Festival Boston, UMass Boston/Institute for Community Inclusion, MA Cultural Council, No Limits Media, and WGBH
Thanks to Northeastern University for offering to host the LCA2.0 media employers and mentors down the road when the snow melts. LCA2.0 looks forward to returning to Boston,” according to Tari Hartman Squire, creator of Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0
As a Disability & Media Industry Call-to-Action Summit, LCA2.0 brings together diverse voices representing theatre, advertising, content creators, filmmakers, actors, and employment experts to guide participants in leveraging their skills to make their way their desire career path. The first panel called How to Make It in the Media Panel brought together professionals, from Jd Michaels from BBDO, Jeff Pardo from Google, and Julio Ricardo Varela from Futuro Media Group. The three discussed with moderator Anna Packman about how one gets started in the field. The moderator disclosed her disability and struggles and shared how employees warmly welcomed her. The panel goal is to share career entry experiences and strategies that helped the panel build on their personal and professional brand and content.
The first workshop was presented by barbara butz, from policyworks entitled self-disclosure and framing your disability to sharpen your competitive edge, telling how disability can be an asset during the screening and interviewing process for your desired job.
Derek shields, co-chair of the national disability mentoring coalition, provided the second workshop on networking and mentoring entitled: “nobody taught me how to network.” this session provided a networking model that helps develop a more positive mindset regarding networking and how to access mentors. After the event Derek said: “providing this content enhances the self-confidence of aspiring media professionals with disabilities. One of the Boston-area participants shared with me after the webinar that he better understands that a combination of skills, abilities and networking will help him to utilize connections to discover employment opportunities.” Derek also mentioned that the “practical experience and intentional activities” that lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 provides participants – both the aspiring professionals and the employers – helps all of us discover how to leverage mentoring as a disability inclusion strategy.
LCA2.0 was held in conjunction with the Boston ReelAbilities Film Festival (first premiere film rescheduled to this Sunday, March 25th at the Museum of Science)!
All participants and employers featured will be part of the LCA2.0 database for media professionals and aspiring career starters for LCA2.0 recruiting events, webinars, future internships, scholarships and apprenticeships, and the Cornell University/National Disability Mentoring Coalition Media Mentoring Opportunity Talent Pipeline. Participants can continue to network with each other and continue working of their content and brand!
This summit was co-founded in part by Tari Hartman Squire of EIN SOF Communications and Loreen Arbus of The Loreen Arbus foundation in collaboration with PYD, Deaf Film Camp; Easterseals Disability Film Challenge; Inclusion Films Workshop; Mass Cultural Council; National Center for Accessible Media — WGBH; National Disability Mentoring Coalition; No Limits Media; Northeastern University Career Development, Northeastern University Disability Resource Center; PolicyWorks; ReelAbilities Film Festival Boston; and UMASS Boston Institute for Community Inclusion
On January 8, I attended with other mentees and our mentors an Advocacy Leadership Training with Mass Mentoring in collaboration with PYD (Partners for Youth with Disabilities) in preparation for Youth Mentoring Day at the State House that was on January 8th. The night was educational, active and fun. We had a great night together and we also enjoyed delicious pizza! We were prepared to share our stories at the State House.
At Youth Mentoring Day at the State House, held on January 17th, we were a great group of advocates – mentors and mentees showed up despite the snow with Mass Mentoring Partnership and PYD to share how important mentoring is. It was powerful and exciting to listen to some awesome speakers. State Senator Linda Doreen Forty is a big supporter for mentoring and she spoke very passionately about the subject. Her speech captivated me and even moved some of us to tears! It was exciting and I loved being a part of this important event at the State House.
Thanks to all the representatives who spoke, who took the time to meet with us after and who supported us in our mission to increase awareness and increase funding for mentoring. Mentoring fosters positive life effects on youth. I know, I have had several great mentors who have helped me grow as a person and have always given me valuable insight in many different areas of my life. I am grateful for all my mentors for helping me through different stages of my life! I hope other youth with disabilities get the chance to experience the power of mentoring!
BOSTON, MA – Over the next three years, Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) will be launching a new online, professional mentoring program to support community college students with disabilities across five states.
According to the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Policy, people with disabilities continue to have an unemployment rate over two times that of people without disabilities. While higher education often improves employment opportunities, college graduates continue to face barriers when seeking employment, which can lead to unemployment or underemployment. Thanks to a three-year grant from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, Partners for Youth with Disabilities is planning to address this issue by expanding professional mentoring opportunities to community college students with disabilities in five states.
PYD will offer e-mentoring to 330 young adults with the goal of improved employment outcomes through partnerships with Business Leadership Networks in Massachusetts (Work Without Limits), Connecticut (Connecticut Business Leadership Network), Maine (Maine Business Leadership Network in partnership with the Maine Chamber of Commerce), Wyoming (Unita County Business Leadership Network), and Kansas (Greater Kansas City Leadership Network), as well as community colleges in these areas.
Community College students will access professional and peer mentors to increase their networks, receive advice, and gather support about achieving goals. They will also participate in topical webinars related to employment readiness, and engage in live networking and interview fairs hosted by the Business Leadership Networks.
According to Regina Snowden, Founder and Executive Director of Partners for Youth with Disabilities, “For 31 years, PYD has witnessed the transformative power of mentoring in the lives of youth and young adults with disabilities in their efforts to gain employment and achieve independence. We are thrilled to be expanding our program model beyond Massachusetts through e-Mentoring. We know that this effort between many collaborating partners will result in increased employment opportunities for the participating young adults.”
About Partners for Youth with Disabilities
Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) empowers youth with disabilities to reach their full potential by providing transformative mentoring programs, youth development opportunities, and inclusion expertise. To learn more, visit www.pyd.org.
About Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation
The Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, based in the Washington, DC area, was established in 1991 by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and the Mitsubishi Electric U.S. companies, which produce, sell and distribute a wide range of consumer, industrial, commercial and professional electronics products. The foundation has contributed more than $15 million to organizations that are empowering young people with disabilities to lead more inclusive and productive lives. To learn more, visit the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation’s website at www.MEAF.org.
This week is now officially the last work week being at PYD as a Summer Scholar (sob, cry, sniff sniff). The experience for the past six weeks has been nothing short of engaging, educational, and has some of the most memorable moments during this summer. I learned about how to be a professional writer for a company and collaborate and discuss my writing to be put out on the website; I’ve been involved in PYD events such as the Youth Leadership Forum, and Access To Theatre; and I attended an event to raise money for HIV/AIDS research hosted by Kiehl’s. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve seen a lot, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity–and hopefully, even more opportunities like it in the future.
As a part of my role, I had to attend bi-weekly seminars hosted by the MLK Summer Scholars program and John Hancock. During each of the Friday seminars, Summer Scholars from across multiple organizations each participated in community building activities under the motto “Seize today to own tomorrow.” The first session focused on physical and mental health by bringing in a motivational speaker before the scholars went out to the football field for exercises and yoga. The second session focused in creating a model of what Boston will be like in the year 2030. We received a bag of random items such as sticky tape, pipe cleaners, plates, and even an old floppy disk to create this model. The third session (which I was not able to attend due to my commitments to ATT) focused on financial literacy and how to better manage your money.
This entry is the ninth, and final, during my time as an MLK Scholar. But I’m sure from time to time I’ll contribute to PYD again in the future. I have many big plans ahead of me–can’t say what exactly–but no one has seen the last of me yet.
One last thing I would like to say is thank you to the Partners For Youth With Disabilities staff for accepting me as your own for the brief period of time I had, and for helping me navigate this sometimes wacky job. I can’t say enough about how great the experience has been, and I hope to work with all of you again soon.
During the Peer Leader training for the Youth Leadership Forum, Kristin Humphrey introduced our group what a “Zine” is. They are described as being self-published works of art that can focus on any topic of interest, whether it’s sports, LGBTQ rights, cartoons, or any other topic in-between. She asked our group of peer leaders to create our very own zines with a whole table of supplies at our disposal: scissors, glue sticks, colored pencils, paper, magazines, etc., to help us self-express.
After exploring the magazines, I carefully picked out many images of what I wanted my zine to be. This was the end result: