Wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt and headphones that were once reserved for audio recording professionals, Patricia Joachim, 19, said she always dreamed of having her own record label.
And now she can because YOUmedia Miami has given her the tools and confidence to pursue her dream.
“What I like most about this space is the energy,” said Joachim, who describes herself as a poet, lyricist and music producer. “It makes you want to create.”
Funded by more than $800,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, YOUmedia Miami was started last year at the North-Dade regional library to allow high school students between the ages of 14-19 to get immersed in the creative process.
All they need is a library card to be able to create and mix music, produce films and learn how to use design software like Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator.
But with the program’s two-year funding cycle ending this month, the future of the program is unknown.
“This was a experimental process for us,” said Jorge Martinez, vice president and chief technology officer at the Knight Foundation.
“Now that the program is set up, it’s really up to the library system to decide whether or not the program should keep going.”
Martinez said that so far, there hasn’t been a proposal filed on the program’s behalf for further funding.
Victoria Galan, 46, public affairs officer for the Miami-Dade county library system, said the idea behind the program is to give the opportunity to students to be producers instead of consumers in a place where they can feel safe.
“Kids want a cool place where they can hang out, mess around, and our hope is that they’ll stay to geek out,” Galan said.
The lounge-like room, which serves as the programs’ headquarters, is equipped with Mac desktops and mentors to teach about the different kinds of software.
The walls are adorned with colorful contemporary art that, Joachim points out, was most likely created by a student using Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.
“You can see designs that other students have created and even listen to music they’ve produced,” Joachim said.
Marlon Moore, library project media coordinator for YOUmedia Miami said that more than 480 students rely on the program.
“YOUmedia has been so successful that that number will probably double in the upcoming months,” Moore said.
Since YOUmedia Miami is housed in an area of Miami Gardens where violence is high, librarian Ricci Yuhico, 23, said the program has been useful not only to those who want to learn about technology, but it has also served as a refuge for many.
“A program like this is necessary in an area where violence and high school dropout rates are high,” Yuhico said. “I have students tell me that they can express themselves here, unlike anywhere else.”