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Allentown Teens Speak Out About National Budget Priorities

Allentown youth, others around U.S. share their vision in 3rd annual If I Had a Trillion film festival in Washington D.C.

ALLENTOWN, PA (April 16th, 2013) –Allentown teens, in partnership with Muhlenberg College students, were honored to be finalists in the third annual “If I Had a Trillion Dollars” Youth Film Festival sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and The National Priorities Project (NPP) through their involvement in the Healthy Youth Peer Education (HYPE) program at Muhlenberg College. 

The IHTD festival asks young people to speak out on the federal budget via short videos that answer the question “What would you do with $1 trillion—for yourself, your family, and your community.”  In making their videos, youth consider the $1 trillion spent yearly on the U.S. military; the $1 trillion spent on the wars abroad, and the $1 trillion plus in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Allentown teens took this message seriously and created their video  “A Trillion for Education” by Erin Bohmiller, Victoria Mintzer, Stephanie Rosner and Graciela Santana. View it at http://youtu.be/u1EgBTWFiSI

Graciela and Frankie Santana attend the Lincoln Leadership Academy in Allentown School District. The “If I Had a Trillion Dollars” Film Festival culminated on April 13-15, 2013 in Washington DC, where AFSC and NPP held a youth leadership conference for finalists, a film screening for members of Congress and a free public screening at the Sidwell Friends School. At the conference, Gracie and Frankie were trained as activists to speak out about the critical need for education funding and brought the stories and struggles of Allentown School District to the attention of a Legislative Correspondent for Senator Bob Casey in a face-to-face meeting focused on discussing the state and national funding cuts that are impacting students throughout ASD. As teens, Gracie and Frankie know first hand the importance of education funding and are witnessing how decreases in funding are limiting student interest in attending school and putting themselves and their peers at a disadvantage to students in other districts.  These teens are taking an active role in speaking out for their education and inspiring government leaders to do the same.

For more information about the youth documentaries above please contact Jenna Azar, HYPE Program Co-Director, at JAzar@muhlenberg.edu or 610-704-2534. HYPE is a community of practice at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa, supporting young people as they use digital media tools to raise their voices about community issues.  Through documentary work, they creatively challenge the stereotype of young people as “problems” and raise awareness about the real social issues that impede their community’s health and well-being. http://hype.blogs.muhlenberg.edu

For more on AFSC’s work for peace and justice, visit www.afsc.org, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. To find out more about the federal budget and spending, visit http://nationalpriorities.org/

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.