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Foundation Lets High School Students Tell Stories About Their Blocks Through Short Films

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Some of the city's youngest filmmakers had their short films debut on the big screen, part of a program that gets high schools to arm students with cameras. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Stories from the blocks that high school students live on are the subject of short films they're taught to make.

The MyBlock NYC Education Foundation gives them the cameras and the skills to operate them, and gives their teachers a curriculum they can adapt to meet their needs.

The program was in 28 city schools this past year.

The program began two years ago and is expanding. While it takes place during the school year, some of the young filmmakers were honored this summer with a screening at the Sony Wonder Technology Lab.

"When I was younger, I wanted to do film," said student Kassandra Luiando. "I was a little scared of it, and this kind of, like, brung it out of me."

Sony donated the 30 cameras. Teachers apply to borrow them for a month, and students are trusted to bring them home.

More than 1,000 students have participated. Just one camera has been lost.

"We're trying to bridge the desire to tell stories and the actual, finished product," said Brian Paccione of MyBlock NYC. "What's missing there? Resources."

That's why the program has had to put schools on a waitlist.

"The demand is there," Paccione said. "The key is learning how to expand."

"We want kids in New York City to learn about filmmaking, to try to tell stories using this medium," said Katherine Oliver, the city's media and entertainment commissioner.

Like Mariales Diaz, who goes to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School.

"I wrote a poem about how important it is to appreciate where you are from, but it's more important to leave it and experience other things so you can appreciate it more," Diaz said.

Students are looking through a lens to see the familiar differently.

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