Youth at the Center

Written by: Marlon A. Leslie, Chairperson, BRACED Youth Media Team

The BRACED Youth Media Team is an organization that was created especially for young people living in the informal communities of Portmore, Jamaica. Back in November of 2018 I took part in Habitat’s “Media for Social Change” workshop and have ever since been engaged with the project. BRACED stands for Building Resilience and Capacities against Emerging Disasters – a topic that I knew little about before. Before joining the workshop I had never taken advocacy as a tool into consideration nor did I know anything about cameras. And yet, being part of the BRACED Youth Media Team has led all of us into the path of using cameras as a means of storytelling.

Within three weeks, we acquired and improved our skills in the areas of photography and videography including everything from simple camera maintenance to on-set and post-production. Our team leaders, James Taylor and Vanessa Hirneis, taught us how to use these new skills to tell the stories of our communities and took us to the streets to practice. We have talked to community members, leaders and government officials, which gave us an idea of all the things that are going on in our neighborhoods, as well as allowed for us to gather this information and share it back with the community. To do so effectively, we have been introduced to all the tools BRACED has been employing in our communities to reduce the risk of disaster and formalize the land in the recent years, such as mapping and surveying, understanding the Habitat fast-track process and drone-imaging.

Lately, we participated in two local video competitions, one being the world water day competition, which has been a great experience and a great way to test out abilities. Right now, we are trying to grow our team and our outreach so that our immediate communities and Jamaica as a whole will be informed about all the current events in our area. In particular, on how to get involved in all the great things that are going on. Ultimately, we want to create a better future for today’s youth and inspire them, as we have been inspired, to be the leaders of today – possibly even using media for their purposes.

I believe everyone has a special purpose and that we all can impact others to be leaders in their own unique way. As a team, we want to encourage, motivate and inspire our communities and the world. To accomplish that, we are going to keep improving our new craft and to share our knowledge with as many people as possible. I myself have benefitted from the BRACED project in ways that were well beyond my imagination. Being a member has allowed me to work on my leadership and community organizing skills and it has allowed me to express myself creatively. Even being able to write this blogpost for the world to read and to see our work feels incredible and motivates us to find ways to be sustainable and to keep making media for change.

Thank you to Habitat, our facilitators and my teammates for this amazing opportunity!


Take a few minutes to see the amazing videos produced by Marlon and his team!