Students at the Young Women's Leadership School of Brooklyn were chosen grand prize winners in the Speak Truth to Power student video contest sponsored by NYSUT and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
In the video - which highlights the work of human rights defender Juliana Dogbadzi and her advocacy against sex slavery - students explain how sex trafficking is modern-day slavery and is intertwined with politics, poverty and a host of other issues. They have also created a web series dedicated to awareness of sex trafficking.
Students from 250 schools entered videos for the contest - nearly triple the number of submissions in last year's inaugural event.
In videos lasting three to six minutes, students had to portray the life of an activist and explain why their work matters. They had to divulge the essence of a lifetime of work in as much time as it takes to go through the school lunch line.
The high school first place prize goes to Robert Riglietti of Harborfields High School in Greenlawn for a video on Jamie Nabozny, an activist for bully prevention. Middle school first place goes to Adam Kluge of Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Tonawanda for a video on Nabozny.
The student video competition was developed to help middle and high school students engage in human rights. Students chose from one of the 19 defenders championed by Speak Truth To Power.
"This year, thanks to the partnership with the Tribeca Film Institute, we were able to increase outreach and the quality of submissions by conducting two teacher trainings, one in New York City and one in western New York, that included a combined audience of more than 60 teachers," said John Heffernan, director of the Speak Truth To Power program at the RFK Center.
Students were asked to probe the human rights issue, how the activist is improving the situation, how the work is connected to local communities, and what can the activist's life teach us. The judges looked for student films that used creative storytelling through documentary, stop motion, narrative or digital photo essay.
As grand prize winners, the students from the Young Women's Leadership School will be recognized later this month at the Tribeca Film Festival.