Lenita Cornelius of Oneida used to want to work in a beauty shop.
thanks to a two-week, precollege summer camp that teaches television
production to American Indians, Lenita wants to be an actress or
a scriptwriter when she grows up.
made me think more clearly, 'cause before I wanted to be a cosmetologist,"
said Lenita, who has already written a play for another project.
"Acting is really fun."
dreams have grown bigger, but that's what the "Native Dreams"
program is all about: Getting American Indian kids to realize they
can make their dreams come true.
by Alex Zacarias, and assistants Miguel Barrientos and Dean Thomas,
the program comes out of the combined efforts of Zacarias, Northeastern
Wisconsin In-School Telecommunications, Wise Women Gathering Place
and Wisconsin Public Television.
program gives 18 Oneida and Menominee Nation middle-school students
a chance to learn about film production as they produce a 30-second
public service announcement promoting abstinence, which will air
on WBAY-TV Channel 2 in August.
they create the message, then they start to believe the message,"
by some of the kids' comments, his words ring true.
changed everything I knew about sex," said Aloysius Zhuckkahosee
Jr. of the Menominee Nation. "I didn't know there were that
many STDs in the world."
Maria Gomez agreed.
works 100 percent," Gomez, a Menominee, said authoritatively.
wraps up the first year of a new program called Community Based
Abstinence Culture, which teaches abstinence education to eighth-graders
at Oneida and Menominee tribal schools. Those who are participating
in "Native Dreams" have gone through their first year
of CBAC and will continue with it as they go through high school.
been spending the year helping these kids understand the benefits
and value of abstinence," said Alice Skenandore, executive
director of Wise Women and Gathering Place and the woman responsible
for obtaining the CBAC grants.
by a combination of grants from the state and federal Department
of Health and Human Services, as well as numerous local and state
organizations, the CBAC program is designed to slow the growing
rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among
was Skenandore who wanted to cement the messages the kids have been
learning all year long by using television as a medium. That's why
she turned to NEWIST Director Eileen Littig, who frequently works
with kids in her TV productions.
difference about TV is it reaches many people," Littig said.
Skenandore said a television broadcast seen by many people can be
a real source of pride.
can hear good comments from elders and the community, saying to
them, 'Boy, that was a good thing you did,' Skenandore said. "It
will help turn them in a direction that's Upward Bound."
the program does more than teach kids about the value of abstinence
and the lessons of film production, it also serves other important
demystified the campus setting," Zacarias said. "The first
few days, they were very apprehensive. Now, they don't want to go
from breaking down barriers between kids and college, Native Dreams
breaks down cultural hurdles as well.
Menominee and Oneida kids do not know much about each other and
cultural stereotypes don't help.
we've been able to bring them together, they work as a team and
break down barriers," Zacarias said.