Digital Storytelling Helps Students “Find a Voice”: Center for Arts-Inspired Learning’s Partnership with Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the Ohio Arts Council Gives Platform for Social Issues

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Immigration. Bullying. The dangers of taking the perfect selfie. Students are faced with a number of social issues that impact their lives, tap their curiosity, or make them examine their place in a larger world. But when do we ask young people their thoughts on what happens in their world?

This fall, Center for Arts-Inspired Learning asked those questions of 6th, and 7th and 8th graders from 12 schools across the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The program, “Find a Voice,” used digital media to blend traditional storytelling techniques with modern technology to address local and global community needs. CAL teaching artists helped the students research and then weave together a social issue or autobiographical story into a two-to-three minute digital work with still and video images, music, narrative and voice, creating a cohesive and compelling multimedia presentation. Experimenting with new forms of technology, the students learned how incorporating digital media adds impact and dimension to their stories.

“I was really surprised at the maturity in the students,” said Jimmie Woody, a CAL Resident Teaching Artist who worked with several schools during the project. “They were choosing topics like human trafficking or telling stories from their lives and really putting their hearts into the process.”

The students debuted their films for family and friends at special screenings at each school. The red carpet rolls out on Thursday, January 14 at Cleveland State University’s Drinko Hall as one selection from each of the participating schools will be screened at a district-wide film festival. Open to the community, all are invited to see the world through the talented eyes of the next generation. Support for this program was generously provided by the Ohio Arts Council.



District Wide School Film Festival: January 14, Cleveland State University Drinko Hall


Center for Arts Inspired Learning

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Cleveland, Ohio 44120