Student project works with community youth to encourage sex ed

A former USC School of Cinematic Arts student has been working with young women in the community to create a video showcase made up of public service announcements created by the girls.

Tani Ikeda, a USC alumna who graduated with a degree in cinema-television production in 2009, started a mentoring program in 2009 called ImMEDIAte Justice.

The program aims to help underprivileged minority women in Los Angeles get their voices heard and educate each other, she said.

“The program is to mentor high school girls from South Central Los Angeles in media literacy, film production and sex education,” Ikeda said.

Ikeda said that the inspiration for the program occurred one day while talking with her friends.

“It really started when me and a couple of friends from high school were reminiscing about some sex education classes and remembering how awful it was — about how embarrassing it was and how uncomfortable it was,” Ikeda said. “Especially how it made us young women feel like they got the short end of the stick.”

Partnering with the USC Institute of Multimedia Literacy, Ikeda sponsored a three-day retreat to enhance leadership and a six-week media literacy and pixilation animation training.

“We worked with high school girls that were peer advocates for Planned Parenthood and we created two short documentary films, one of which went to the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York,” Ikeda said.

The girls in the program were asked to create four 30 second-long public service announcements. Those PSAs were then put together into the video that ImMEDIAte Justice will be showcasing.

Ikeda said she created the documentary for young women who don’t have the resources available about safe sex and how to protect themselves.

“A lot of foundation and resources that used to be available for young people who are at risk have completely dried up and it’s really up to the ordinary people who really believe in their community and young people to volunteer their time and energy to create resources that no longer exist,” Ikeda said.

Ikeda said the documentary focused on creating exposure and amplifying the voices and concerns of young women who are typically misrepresented by the media.

“I think it’s really inspiring because our youth are disempowered in a lot of ways,” Ikeda said. “People don’t ask what they think is important or what wisdom they have because they are told that they are not old enough to have wisdom, which I disagree with.”

With that belief in mind, Ikeda said she wanted to make Los Angeles youth an agent for change.

Ikeda also said she wants to make ImMEDIAte Justice an international movement.

“We are currently talking to some international girl organization that wants to integrate media literacy into their program so we are hoping to make Immediate Justice go global and become a global bylaw between young women,” Ikeda said.

Though she has already graduated, Ikeda said she would like stay  with ImMEDIAte Justice in whatever capacity that she can in the future.

“Immediate justice is the combination of everything that I’ve always wanted in the world for myself as a young person growing up and it’s really connected to everything that I believe in,” Ikeda said. “My passion for filmmaking, my dream for revolution and I think film is an exceptional medium for helping people think outside the box of our everyday problems.”