Featuring the AYV Awards Documentary Winners: Bullying, Trafficking, and the Human Spirit

What did you struggle with most in high school? Academics, family dynamics, maybe even bullying?  Students today deal with many of the same problems – and they have something to say about it.

Brandon-Kennedy_BehindTheScenesThrough Adobe Youth Voices (AYV) students from around the world create digital media projects about issues that matter to them most. Last week, we unveiled this year’s AYV Award winners across seven categories, from photo essays to music videos to poetry. Over the next seven weeks, we’ll be featuring the winners of each category – starting today with the winning Documentary submissions.

1st Place: Victim

The 1st place winner of our Documentary category is Brandon Charlton and Kennedy Houston’s video, Victim. Inspired by a friend’s devastating struggle, Victim examines the effects of bullying through the individual stories and interviews of those personally affected, from students, to parents, to school counselors.

Brandon-KennedyBrandon and Kennedy are a great example of how creating awareness can help improve the lives of others. Students have already opened up to them about their own struggles, helping them form closer, more meaningful relationships with each other and with their fellow students. “If you’re being bullied, don’t let it bring you down,” says Brandon. “Keep pushing – it shows you have heart and the potential to do whatever you want in life.”

One third of students report being bullied at school, and 77% of those bullied experience psychological or verbal abuse. Learn more about what bullying is and what you can do to help at stopbullying.gov.


2nd Place: International Boulevard

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. When Rebecca Dharmapalan and Zoe Yi learned that the Bay Area is one of America’s top markets for human trafficking, they wanted to learn more about the issue and how they could help prevent it. This powerful video, also submitted to the 2013 Girls Impact the World Film Festival, includes thought provoking interviews with Holly Joshi, Oakland Police Sergeant, and Nancy O’Malley, Oakland District Attorney. Rebecca has since become the chair of the Oakland Youth Commission to help further combat this issue and is attending UC Berkeley in the fall to conduct human trafficking research. Zoe is attending NYU to pursue film and television, where she plans to continue to produce films that convey a meaningful mission and educate audiences.

To learn more about human trafficking or report an incident, visit the National Human Traffic Resource Center.


Audience Award Winner: Support

14 year-olds Ziyang Ding and Tianyao Xu took a deeper look at the increase of materiality in society and the erosion of morality that has accompanied it. Just like a building needs a strong foundation to survive, so does humanity. “We believe,” say Ziyang and Tianyao, “We will once again be able to support the building of the spirit.”

These three projects present a compelling look into bullying, slavery, and the human spirit, but there are many more amazing projects to see: View all of the AYV winners here.

Patricia Cogley is senior program manager, Adobe Youth Voices.