On February 14, President Obama released his Federal Budget for 2012. The next day, five youth from Boston and the Bronx sent a message to Congress about their budget priorities. They were there as the first prize winners in the AFSC and National Priorities Project (NPP) spon- sored youth video contest, “If I Had A Trillion Dollars.”
The contest asked youth ages 13-23 to make short videos about what they would do with $1 trillion, rather than spend it on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. From May to November 2010, the contest received nearly 50 submissions from youth around the country. The winners were an- nounced on Martin Luther King Day, 2011 and the first prize winners received a trip to our nation’s capital.
Kyane Strother, Alia Holness, Anays Mercedes and Richardson Joseph from Boston and Briseida Montiel from the Bronx arrived in Washington, D.C. anxious, excited and nervous to be presenting their winning videos to Congress. After a lobby training at Friends Committee on National Legislation and a briefing on the federal budget from AFSC and NPP staff, they were ready to meet members of Congress and send their mes- sage of cutting the military budget. After two congressional briefings at the Capitol and over 15 congressional office visits, the youth headed to the iconic Busboys and Poets coffeehouse in Washington, D.C. There, they met with D.C.-area youth and discussed the issues in their commu- nities. Afterwards, the youth were honored and the winning videos were screened to an audience of nearly 100 people.
“I never expected to have my video shown to members of Congress and I never expected I would be in Washington, D.C.,” said 19-year old Briseida Montiel of Bronx, New York. “The most exciting part for me was getting offered an internship in Senator Kerry’s office. It was amazing to be able to meet his staff in D.C.,” said Alia Holness, a sophomore from Boston. Alia and the other youth from Boston had the opportunity to talk with staffers in their Sena- tor’s office as well as their Congressman’s office. Each staff member received a DVD of their winning video and information from AFSC and NPP on budget priorities.
To see the winning videos and find out more information on the “If I Had A Trillion Dollars” Youth Video Contest, please visit http://afsc.org/video/winners-2010-if-i-had-trillion-dollars-youth-video-contest.
- ERIN POLLEY, Program Associate, Peacebuilding Program