Winning with Digital Arts

Boys & Girls Clubs of America encourages STEM education.

GUEST COLUMN | by Edwin Link

CREDIT Jeff Lewis:AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of AmericaFew issues are more important to the future of our nation than science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). According to the National Science and Technology Council, occupations in STEM are expected to grow 1.7 times faster than non-STEM occupations by 2018. Studies have also shown that fewer than half of all public schools offer visual arts programs. Additionally, children from low-income families are 50 percent less likely than youth from affluent families to participate in arts programs outside of school.

Few issues are more important to the future of our nation than science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) are helping young people develop passion and aptitude in STEM and the arts, focusing on innovation and the creative power of young people, activating their passion, and helping them push the boundaries of what is possible.

Two programs that are helping to encourage and develop the technology skills of talented youth that might not otherwise have these opportunities are BGCA’s Digital Arts Festivals (DAF) and the ImageMakers National Photography Contest.

CREDIT Jeff Lewis:AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America imageRecently, the national teen winners from various Clubs across the country headed to Los Angeles for a once-in-a-lifetime recognition trip and awards ceremony The recognition trip, sponsored by Comcast and NBCUniversal, Sony Electronics Inc., and Cartoon Network, was a fun and educational way to celebrate the accomplishments of these young adults in the area of computer- generated art. Activities included an awards gala at the historic Globe Theatre and a private tour of Universal Studios, Warner Bros. Studios and Cartoon Network Studios. Additionally, the teens participated in career experiences with Comcast and NBCUniversal executives, covering topics such as music in film and how to pitch movie ideas.

Each of the students has an amazing story. Sanja K., 13, of Porter County, Indiana, is being recognized in two categories – animation and game design. Sanja said that she used to play video games but now takes pleasure in creating them. As a new resident in the U.S. with a language barrier, she found photography to be the perfect outlet for expressing her feelings and point of view. Sanja would like to work in a STEM-related field when she grows up.

For some of these teens, the trip to LA was their first time on a plane, like Samuel W., 18, of Dane County, Wisconsin. Samuel is being recognized for music making.  He currently lives in foster care and finds that spending time creating music helps him channel his energy into something he loves and reduces his stress. He describes the trip to LA as “really amazing and a dream come true.”

CREDIT Jeff Lewis:AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America - theatreAdrian A., a 15 year-old from East Valley, Arizona is known as the “tech guru” at his Club. He is being recognized for movie making and enjoys building and fixing computers. Adrian wants to be an IT assistant or pursue a career in the technology field.

In its 12th year, the Digital Arts Festivals invite Club members ages 6 to 18 to submit their computer-generated art in one of six categories: photo illustration, music making, graphic design, game design, movie animation and film. The ImageMakers National Photography Contest has a rich, 50-plusyear history in Boys & Girls Clubs. The contest calls upon youth ages 6 to 18 to capture photographs in four categories: culture and tradition, portraits, surroundings, and photo with essay or poem.

The talent of this year’s national winners is phenomenal and we are proud to provide these teens with an opportunity to explore a wide variety of career paths, tour a new city and make new friends from Boys & Girls Clubs around the world.  The winning artwork, chosen from 20,000 entries, will be on display at the BGCA National Headquarters throughout the year and online at the Digital Arts Festivals Gallery and ImageMakers Gallery.

Edwin Link is the Senior Director of Academic Success, Innovation & the Arts for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Visit: www.bgca.org 

PHOTO CREDITS

The all-expenses-paid, weeklong recognition trip to LA rewards teen winners for their excellence in digital animation, graphic and game design, filmmaking, music, and photography. Teens are being treated to an awards gala in their honor at the historic Globe Theatre, exploration of digital arts careers with Comcast and NBCUniversal, photography lessons with a Sony Artisan of Imagery photographer and private tours of Universal Studios, Warner Bros Studios and Cartoon Network Studios. 

Sound Mixing photo:  Club teens from around the world learn about sound mixing at Universal Studios as part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Digital Arts Festivals and ImageMakers National Photography Contest. Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis/AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Mario Lopez photo: Boys & Girls Clubs alum and Extra host Mario Lopez meets with 18 Club teens from around the world on the set of Extra at Universal Studios Hollywood as part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Digital Arts Festivals and ImageMakers National Photography Contest. Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis/AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Globe Theatre photo:  Club teens from around the world pose on the steps of the historic Globe Theatre in Los Angeles as part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Digital Arts Festivals and ImageMakers National Photography Contest. Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis/AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. 

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