Javier Arellano, Salud Youth Leader
16-year-old Javier Arellano didn’t know what he was in for when he auditioned for SALUD 2008, now a returning youth participant find out why, for him, SALUD is much more than making media.
Last year, during my first summer of SALUD with Teatro Americano, I witnessed a life-changing experience that I would never forget. Some of my favorite parts from last year were the games we played every day, like: pass-the-clap, kunja, pass the sound and movement etc. I also loved the random, yet meaningful activities we did like, kickboxing at the gym, interviews in Little Village, and the mini "sex education" workshop. Above all, I loved the fact that in SALUD, we weren't treated as little kids. We were shown and told "how it is."
When I first arrived for the "audition" I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I would be doing some sort of theater program in one small room. I had no idea at the time that the young people sitting around me would eventually become my closest companions, my family.
The fact that SALUD was located in Pilsen and was VERY different, had the most impact on me. Last year, I was one of the youngest kids in a room filled with 15- to 21- year-olds. Until then, I just thought of Pilsen and Little Village as those cool Mexican neighborhoods, with elotes, that I always enjoyed going to. After joining and experiencing this program I gained completely new, different, and several perspectives that helped me grow up a little. The friendships created in SALUD last year impacted me the most, by far. I got the chance to meet fun, different, mature, and real people around my age that would become the greatest impact on me and everything around me.SALUD helped me gain several new perspectives on life and my environment. It also allowed me to gain endurance in everything I do from now on, thanks to Suzuki and our director's wise advice. Finally, as a Latino Youth based program focusing on several Latino issues such as immigration and environmental health, SALUD allowed me to better understand the issues around me and what it meant to be a Latino.”
Returning for SALUD 2009
Secretly, I never planned on returning this year. I had such a good time last year, and so many fond memories that I didn't want to ruin it. The reason I did end up returning, however, was because I knew I couldn't stay away. The family we created on and off stage last year seemed to pull me back in for another life-changing summer, no matter the risk. I returned to relearn and experience my new life all over again. This year, I ultimately hope to relearn everything I did last year. I also hope to expand on different topics and issues around us, and the world, to create a new play. I also definitely hope to play some more new games. I feel I can offer my experiences from last year to the new group. Also, I can offer my endurance and persistency to help the group.”
With SALUD itself, I would like to see it become more and more popular and gain the recognition it deserves. I would like to see it create a brand new family and play, as last year. I really wouldn't make any changes. I think it's great the way it is. If anything, I would continue the collaborations between it and other youth programs around.”
Watch and Listen
New Research & Recommendations
This report (PDF 3.8MB) offers guidance for community organizations and those who fund social change in how best to harness the power of local media-making for community health improvement. Spanish-language version is now available. Una versión en español de este informe esta en la web.