On May 28th 2013, Project MyVoice debuted the first screening of Autism Rocks to a packed house of 106 people and even had to turn some away. The air was thick with anticipation to see how the two month experience concluded. Through flickering lights, seven different stories about Autism Rocks encouraged the audience to laugh when prompted, smile when provoked and absorb the messages of the captivating stories. The 35 minute screening concluded with a “meet and greet” of all the Project MyVoice producers and the Autism Rocks members featured in the film. Thanks to the Kilkenny Service and Leadership Fund from the Holden Center for providing the funds for advertising, renting the Bijou Theater and participate incentive, Laughing Planet for matching donations and gifting those involved by treating them to dinner and the Bijou Theater for gifting movie tickets to the producers, this event was a true success.
The screening not only successfully featured Autism Rocks, it illustrated a continued need for community service projects like Project MyVoice in the evolving field of journalism. As noted by Alina Padilla-Miller, doctoral student and creator of Project MyVoice, “For the last seven years I have seen journalism change because of digital media. I have seen students become masters of storytelling, masters of technology and masters of distribution. I have seen students capture amazing stories and present them beautifully. But, what I haven’t really seen is an investment into community. I haven’t seen too many students integrate for a reasonable amount of time to truly get to know the people of their story. For two months, 16 undergraduate and 2 graduate students from the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon became members of Autism Rocks. We attended events, met with the board, exchanged ideas and together we created this project with Autism Rocks.”
Beyond the benefit of teaching civic journalism to students is the impact this type of project has on the community. According to Mary-Minn Sirag, President of KindTree-Autism Rocks, “The students did an excellent job interviewing me. They asked excellent questions and put me at ease by giving me plenty of time to warm up and talk. The films were inspiring, beautiful, and captured the essence of KindTree-Autism Rocks. The soundtrack was very fitting, and the editing superb. The publicity materials were excellent, with beautiful graphic design that was striking and easy to grok from a distance. The publicity team got it in all the local papers and brought in people who knew nothing about Autism Rocks.”
If you would like to view all seven of the final videos featured at the screening of this project please visit our YouTube channel uoprojectmyvoice.