Playing it Safe: High risk stories from high-risk youth

Films

People mess up all the time… That’s just human nature.

The quote above is from Tabia, a peer filmmaker involved in the Playing it Safe web project which was designed to allow high risk youths to tell their stories, in their own words, about what it’s like to live in their world.

For this project, a group of high risk youth were paired up with peer filmmakers (mentors) who worked with them to create, edit and produce films from their own perspective about their lives.

Tabia was referring to Briony, a young addict who had a baby at the age of 15, which was subsequently taken away from her by her own parents and child services. And she’s not alone.  There’s Fiona, John and Lacey and many other like them who are sharing their stories on their own terms. These are stories about drug addiction, homelessness and all the hot button issues that so many people are afraid to even touch.

By telling their stories, and showing how they reduce harm in their own lives, these youth – who generally live on the fringes of society – are bringing their issues front and centre. And helping others like them in the process. By equipping these people with a camera and a voice, they’re being shown that what they have to say matters; that they have the strength to care about, and take care of, themselves.

At times I was touched by the relationships these kids have developed while at other times I was just struck by the horror of their daily existence. And I realized that there’s a huge distance between judging and understanding. This website is definitely a step in the right direction towards bridging that gap.

Check out the site and let me know what you think. There are a handful of films already online, and more will be added over the coming months. There’s also a blog with resources, news stories and interviews.