By Maureen McTaggart
Rose, Lia and Charleigh – an early school leaver, an ex-young offender and an expectant teenage mum – used to think a career in the media wasn’t for the likes of them until they joined a group of seven other young unemployed teenagers to learn broadcasting skills with award-winning film production and education company Chocolate Films.
The project is based at south London’s Stephen Lawrence Centre and their first production, ‘Live From Stephen Lawrence’, has the head of the Metropolitan Police’s Status Dog Unit, Sergeant Ian McParland, in the hot seat discussing the current teenage status symbol – dangerous dogs.
The show is one of four (others will screen every Tuesday until March 30) and other topics under scrutiny for the first issue will include the youngsters’ own stories and experiences: being in trouble with the police; teenage mums; social networking; video games. The two-month broadcasting workshops are funded by the Host Borough Unit, responsible for administering the Local Employment Trading Fund for the five Olympic boroughs of Newham, Greenwich, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, and were open to 16 to 18-year-olds not currently in education, employment or training (also known as NEETs).
Mark Currie, the director of Chocolate Films and the initiative’s creator, says the take-up by teenagers who would never have considered media as a possible career path makes it special. “The aim of the project is to teach young people internet broadcasting skills and to encourage them to set their sights high," he explains. "Not all doors are closed to them.”
And the Arts Award qualification that comes with it – recognising their team working and leadership skills – is seen as vindication of their commitment to hard work by some of the youngsters, according to 17-year-old Rose Mascarenhas. Having left school last year, she says going for jobs was tough because “employers take one look at you, see you’re young and think you’re lazy'. "At least the TV programme will show them that we are creative and we can work as a team,” she says.
The first live streaming takes place today, Tuesday March 9, at 3.30pm at http://www.stickam.com/chocolatefilms