AYV Live! event, photo provided by Edelman.

Hope Bax was inspired when she babysat Corbin, a family friend's son with autism. 

“I want to help make his life better any way I can,” she says. “I want to share his story and learn about new programs that will make his life easier.”

Bax, then a high school junior at City Academy in SLC, was able to use her inspiration to get a message out about autism out in a personal narrative, thanks to the school's partnership with Adobe Youth Voices, a program that provides digital media programs and curriculums to schools across the country to help students create projects highlighting issues and organizations they care about.

“These people are not a burden on society, and they have such great minds and can do such great things in the community around them if they're given the chance,” says Bax, who also volunteered for Peer Connections, which allows students with high-functioning autism to enter a volunteer work setting.

With her knowledge of digital media, Bax is now branching off of her four-minute personal narrative to make a documentary about autism and her experience with it. 

Deanna Taylor, Bax's service learning teacher this past school year, says this is the first year she's participated with Adobe Youth Voices, but plans on continuing it for future classes. “There were three other teachers in our school who also participated and incorporated the curriculum,” she says. “The students produced some really amazing pieces. I was really impressed.”

After the students finished their projects over a semester, City Academy held their own premiere, and Taylor nominated two students projects for AYV Live!, a year-end showcase of media made by Adobe Youth Voices students on May 23 at the City Library.

A group of Adobe Youth Voices students at the City Library, photo provided by Edelman. 

Using Adobe Photoshop and Premiere, Tori Cody showed off the project she made in Taylor's class at the event. “My project was a PSA for the Living Planet Aquarium. One of the things I love is their mission statement, 'Explore, discover, learn,' so I was just trying to get that message out.”

Going beyond the required amount for the service learning class, Cody is going back to the aquarium this summer to log more hours of volunteer time. Her favorite animal at the aquarium: jellyfish.

“They're absolutely fascinating, and I think they're also overlooked as an animal,” she says. “A lot of people look at them and say 'They sting people, they're bad,' or 'They're just blobs in the ocean.'” There are so many different kinds of jellyfish, and they're just very beautiful and artistic looking. 

Now graduated, Cody is off to college to major in music and minor in economics. She says the coolest part of working with Adobe Youth Voices' program was just being able to get her message out there.

Taylor's student Halley Bruno, whose project was also featured at the AYV Live! Event, has a passion for volunteering with animals, too. “Since eighth grade, I have considered myself an animal rights activist,” she says. “The way we look at certain creatures gives us a detrimental sense of entitlement that really not only affects animals, but people.”

Her project highlighted a typical day at the Humane Society of Utah, where she volunteered for the class. She says she has mostly worked with dogs and cats, but she also has experience with birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, rats and hamsters.

Now, on her way to college, she's planning to promote animal rights even further. “I am majoring in communications and hoping I can use my outreach skills to connect people with the issue of animal abuse—sort of stick up for my animal friends who don't have their own voice,” she says.

Taylor says she first learned about Adobe Youth Voices through the SHIFT program for teachers. For upcoming classes, she plans to have students work on more than just personal narratives and PSAs, but photography, posters and radio spots as well.

For more info on SHIFT, visit shiftworkshops.org. To learn more about the Adobe Youth Voices' curriculum, visit youthvoices.adobe.com.