MissionKids In The Spotlight (KITS) provides a platform for foster youth to heal and grow from trauma & rejection through the power of storytelling and filmmaking. Our goal is to change the trajectory of these often underserved youth, from adversity to achievement. KITS' Screenwriting and Filmmaking Program delivers comprehensive and therapeutic arts education/training, which has assisted our youth in mitigating their pain and finding their power; as well as securing entry level jobs, internships and post-secondary school admission. Each year culminates in an annual KITS Awards - our version of the "Academy Awards".
What We DoOur year round 10-to-15-week Screenwriting and Filmmaking Programs use filmmaking to combat the trauma of a specific population (foster youth), with a ripple effect tied to so many issues in our city. KITS' form of narrative therapy, which allows youth from foster care to rewrite their stories by separating themselves from their rejection and trauma, enables them to shift their perspectives to enhance their health equity and quality of life. Therapists and representatives from the Department of Children and Family Services have revealed that our program is most effective at positively impacting the well-being of foster youth because we empower them to tell their stories their way, to make decisions, and to take ownership of their life.
Our method works because we remove foster youth from the familiar environments that amplify the negative stigma of treatment. The program spends the first 6 weeks focused on screenwriting, allowing their ideas and collaboration to birth the stories they want to tell. The next 3 weeks allow the youth to study acting; bringing many of their emotions to the surface, some for the very first time. The next week is casting, where the youth learn both sides of the experience; auditioning for the roles they want and serving as casting directors to cast their project as a team. The final piece of the 10 weeks is a full day of production, where they shoot their short films with industry professionals showing them the behind-the-scenes of each aspect of filmmaking. An additional service - 5 weeks of editing - allows our youth to cut packages from the footage of their films, creating KITS commercials and trailers of their films on 3 industry-standard software programs. Our program and service stands out because the stories they write and star in are directed by working industry professionals; who deliver a professionally packaged short film and who become dedicated mentors to our youth.
The year culminates in an event where our youth take center stage in the spotlight. They receive the Academy Award-worthy treatment they deserve during our KITS Awards (hair and makeup, wardrobe, limousine rides, a red carpet experience, film premiere with celebrity guests and awards for best actors, screenplays and films), confirming how much they matter. It shows how they are not forgotten, they are not alone, and they are worthy of love and respect. The screenwriting gives them a voice, the acting gives them an outlet and the awards show gives them an audience; where their experiences and their stories are validated and celebrated.