Spy Hop to offer free online media production classes to youth in Hurricane area

Youth in Utah, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Spy Hop Productions, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — During an upcoming stop in Southern Utah, an organization will be providing an opportunity Tuesday through Thursday for youth in Hurricane and LaVerkin to learn new media production skills.

Spy Hop Productions, a nonprofit youth media arts center based in Salt Lake City, has been traveling to rural communities across the state of Utah since 2018 through its Voices of the West Program.

According to a press release from Spy Hop, the program aims to provide media production training to youth ages 13-19 while also giving young people a platform to share their stories and ideas with the world. Due to COVID-19, Spy Hop’s teaching artists will be transitioning their in-person training model to an online format.

“It is important now more than ever to provide opportunities for young people to be connected and inspired to envision a positive future for themselves,” Spy Hop said in the press release. “While the world is struggling to adapt to this new ‘normal,’ young people are also being asked to quickly adapt, but are often lacking the resources and opportunities to take their learning online. It is quite clear that the future of work for the foreseeable future is online.”

Spy Hop’s Voices of the West Online Workshops & Apprenticeship Programs aim to give young people in the Hurricane Valley area the training and mentorship they need to navigate a path forward.

Using filmmaking and storytelling as the catalyst for the program and its final collaborative journalism project, Spy Hop teaching artists will offer the first Voices of the West Online Workshop to students ages 13-19 on Tuesday through Thursday from 2-3 p.m.

Participation is free, and students will need a computer/device and access to the internet. The first workshop will provide the foundation for students to learn basic media production skills while establishing an online community and a sense of connection with their peers and their Spy Hop teaching artist.

The goal is for these students to continue later this summer with a more intensive Voices of the West Online paid apprenticeship, the press release said. Through the apprenticeship, students in Hurricane and LaVerkin will be given the opportunity to collaborate online with youth from the group’s partner locations in Tooele, Vernal and Blanding.

Through facilitated conversations, interviews, monologues, visual art and more, all Voices of the West students will create an interactive journalism piece that will give a unique youth perspective into how rural communities are coping with the pandemic. Students who successfully complete the online program will receive a $200 stipend.

“As we all navigate a way forward in this new normal of remote learning and social distancing, we want students to know we are committed to providing opportunities for them to establish an online community, learn practical real-world technical skills, while also sharing their voices and stories with the world,” Gabriella Huggins, Voices of the West teaching artist, said in the press release.

“COVID-19 has certainly crystalized the disparities and challenges that our smaller rural communities face. Spy Hop’s message to the students in Hurricane/LaVerkin is simple, ‘We are here for you. Your story and your community matter.’”

Interested students can learn more and register for Voices of the West Online on Spy Hop’s website.

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