Welcome to the Reel World Youth Documentaries (RWYD)! RWYD is a semester long cross-disciplinary course that teaches young teens how to use documentary film making as a tool for investigating and learning about the stories they care about in their neighbourhoods, communities, city and beyond.

What makes this course unique is that it is designed to be integrated with existing curriculum whether it is humanities or science or physical education. Our philosophy is that learning is far more effective when students can choose projects connected to real life and in addition, art is a wonderful way to make that connection.

In 2011, I worked with Kate McKenzie at Alice Jamieson Girls Academy with her two grade eight classes where the students have been learning parts of their Worldviews curriculum through video. The twenty teams of students presented their films at the Film Festival on Dec 1 and Dec 2, 2011. With 350 people attending the gala and press attention from the Calgary Herald, Fast Forward, and Metro, these youth made waves. See some of their short films here.

But beyond the film festival itself, the students discovered their own power. At the debrief we had comments like:

  • “In the beginning, it was about the marks, but by the end I wasn’t thinking about it at all. And that’s a big deal for me.”
  • “After this, I looked at the whole class as my friends.”
  • “We usually we do projects from the textbook. This was a project we learned for ourselves, learned about our communities, and working together. That was wonderful.”
  • “Sometimes people see us as wacky teenagers… but this project proves we do care and we do think about making a difference. Just because we’re smaller in age doesn’t mean we can’t try.”

Now with support from Calgary 2012, we brought RWYD to over 120 grade seven students at the Langevin School. We started September 2012 and we’re concluding it with a big film festival of the top 16 films on March 19th, 2013.

Want to take a look at the history of the Alice Jamieson Girls Academy and the Langevin School, take a look at our blog. What a journey!

And if you’re interested in bringing RWYD to your community, drop me a line at chris@hiddenstory.ca¬†and let’s dream up our own possibilities.