Since June, the Enrichment 2 Empowerment program has supported young people in understanding the root causes of violence and its impact on themselves, their families, and their neighborhoods.
New Orleans youth ages 14 to 19 gathered to connect and collaborate to understand community needs, identify resources, and create a project that would raise awareness around those in order to address violence. By connecting with activists, academics, and community members, E2E participants developed research skills such as investigative interviewing and survey design, led conversations, and made decisions about how they might understand community challenges and voice their insight. They chose to tell their stories through film and set about gathering content for a documentary they would call “This is New Orleans: Stories of Truth and Hope.”
Engaged participants interviewed dozens of New Orleanians to reveal the reality behind slanted media narratives and discover hope in the present and for the future. By interviewing each other and friends and family, they generated four hours of footage to edit down into the 38 minute documentary. E2E presented a rough cut of the documentary in mid-December 2024 to an audience of approximately 40 people that included family, friends, and mentors of the participants as well as representatives of community organizations that participated in the summer and fall program.
Some of the themes raised in the film include historical oppression, lack of resources, personal experiences of violence, trauma, and mental health as well as ideas for improvement, the joys of living in New Orleans, and hopes for the future.
The rough edit of the documentary can be found on YouTube as a step in E2E’s goal of creating a social action campaign based upon youth experience and insight. E2E participants will meet in the spring of 2024 to make additional edits to the documentary, analyze the themes presented by interviewees, and plan for a wider release of both the data and content.
Enrichment 2 Empowerment is a program within the Center for Youth Equity, a research-hub at the Violence Prevention Institute of Tulane University. E2E focuses on youth led conversations and decision-making as well as social-emotional learning to cultivate mutual respect and apply principles of Youth Participatory Action Research, an innovative approach rooted in social justice that involves young people in understanding and finding solutions to pressing issues for themselves and their communities. This programming receives funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of their National Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention (YVPCs).