Oregon Children’s Theater and multicultural production organization MediaRites have announced they will be collaborating on The —Ism Youth Files, a project that will focus on writing and interviewing youth ages 12-21 about mental health. The interviews are used to compile a collection of monologues, personal essays, poems and graphic novels.
“I’ve heard from friends about the devastating impact the pandemic is having on their children,” said Dmae Lo Roberts, executive producer of MediaRites, in a press release. “We had previously produced a book of writings by young people about their mental health experiences, so the board and I thought it was time to create an e-book and podcast on the subject through a national submission process.”
While the majority of BIPOC and youth with disabilities are from Portland, 20 authors were selected from outside the Portland area, including Minnesota, Massachusetts and Connecticut (plus one from Calcutta, India). Each author received a fee.
“The ‘Ism Youth Files’ has evolved into a mentoring project,” says Roberts. “We plan to stay in touch with the authors through next year and will be looking for further opportunities for their creativity. I’m so proud of our producing team and grateful that Oregon Children’s Theater worked with us. We hope to raise awareness of adolescent mental health and break the still existing taboo of silence.”
MediaRites also produces four 30-minute podcasts featuring youth stories, interviews and performances. The —Ism Youth Files shares some similarities with The —Ism Project, a MediaRites film anthology about race, gender, and sexual identity.