If you drive down Academy Street in the city of Poughkeepsie, you might pass a building that resembles an old firehouse – the Lady Washington Firehouse to be exact. If you take a closer look, you will notice that this building now serves a different purpose. It is, and has been for the past five years, a community media production house.
The Children’s Media Project was started by award-winning filmmaker Maria Marewski. This non-profit organization moved to 20 Academy Street five years ago but the program has existed since 1994. It is an organization devoted to providing local youth and adults with an opportunity to get hands-on with the media arts. Workshops and special screening opportunities allow students to create, analyze and appreciate various forms of media. Radio, television, film, print and online technology are used to empower youth while teaching them how to utilize media outlets to raise awareness of social issues. Among CMP’s completed projects is an entirely youth-run television show called “DropTV.” It has been broadcast on the Cablevision Network in the local Hudson Valley region and has reached international attention to destinations a s far as South Africa.
In a colorful and ecclectic second floor workspace, Director of the CMP Production House and Media Educator, Josh Baum, recites the ever present mission of the Children’s Media Project. “Giving youth a voice in the media of their choice.”
Baum joined CMP in 2006 as a pupil himself; as an intern from Vassar College.
“There’s a lot of young people around here that are either very passionate about what they do or something that they stand for or they want to explore an issue that is relevant to them and the community,” said Baum. “We’re a place that they can come to to learn the skills they need.”
At the start of 2009, the Children’s Media Project found themselves in a challenging situation in terms of the failing economy, which ultimately effected their incoming support from outside businesses and government grant support.
“Being creative people here, we saw it as an opportunity for us to become more self-sufficient and self-supportive ,” said Baum.
In response, the CMP staff initiated an intensive fundraising effort occurring throughout the month of March. The CMP 50K Media Marathon Fundraiser has a goal of raising $50,000 through contributions and productions to attract more interest in the organization and to get the community involved in the cause. “Our goal is to raise awareness as to what CMP does and to support or even expand our programming,” said Baum.
Those that work and volunteer at the Children’s Media Project never forget why they support such a program.
“The kids are amazing,” said Baum. “Seeing those kids pick up on something, really learn to use it and see their final product…That’s why we’re all here.”
Video produced and edited by Stephanie Espina: