Breaking the Silence uses hands-on training in media literacy and peer leadership as a strategy to intervene in the spread of HIV/AIDS among youth in the Caribbean.

Our program activities include:
  • An intensive workshop series. [go to]
  • A youth-produced video project. [go to]
  • Peer leadership presentations for youth. [go to]
  • Video distribution around the world. [go to]
  • Follow-up activities with Breaking the Silence graduates. [go to]
  • Public presentations about the Breaking the Silence project. [go to]
  • Equipment rentals and production services. [go to]
  • Consultations on project management, by special request. [go to]

    Breaking the Silence is a free, out-of school, intensive workshop series combining media literacy, hands-on digital video production, participatory peer leadership training, and interactive HIV/AIDS prevention developed specifically for youth ages 14-21 in the Caribbean.

    As part of the program, participants explore every aspect of videomaking, including media literacy, collective brainstorming, idea development, scripting, storyboarding, analyzing images, directing, shooting, and non-linear editing.

    Through tailored exercises with health education professionals, Breaking the Silence students also learn the facts of HIV/AIDS and develop a clear, practical understanding of prevention strategies. Ongoing peer leadership training helps these youth develop skills and confidence in passing on their new knowledge to others.

    By integrating participatory approaches to media literacy, peer leadership, and HIV/AIDS prevention training, Breaking the Silence provides youth with highly transferable vocational skills, leadership and teamwork skills, an ethic of civic duty, invaluable relationship skills, self-confidence, skills for self-expression, and a strong sense of community. Breaking the Silence participants face their future with the protection of education, the practical training of video production, and the power of voice.



    To complete the program, the workshop participants create a short educational video. Their video may combine documentary, poetry, experimental video art, testimonial, drama, and narrative styles to tell the most compelling story possible. The end result is provocative, powerful statements from the voices of youth-- voices that articulate important questions about the root causes for the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. Click here to see excerpts from the first Breaking the Silence video.



    Breaking the Silence empowers youth to understand and speak out against the inequities that spread HIV/AIDS in a globalizing world -- amplifying previously unheard voices, ideas, and potential solutions in addressing the AIDS pandemic.

    Because the Breaking the Silence video is created directly by youth, the video speaks directly to those most at-risk for contracting HIV/AIDS. Graduates of the Breaking the Silence program are given the mandate of using their new knowledge and their video in peer leadership presentations, to help spread vital information in their communities. Click here to request a peer leadership presentation in St. Lucia.



    The Breaking the Silence project is designed to maximize the power of mass media for the cause of HIV/AIDS prevention. A video can be easily broadcast, copied and distributed so that its messages travel far and wide. In the case of Breaking the Silence, the locally-produced and youth-produced messages are strategically tailored to the audience, vividly portraying the experience, concerns, and realities of HIV/AIDS from a culturally specific perspective. When the Breaking the Silence video was broadcast nationally on three different television stations in St. Lucia, it made a noticeable impact in the community.

    The Breaking the Silence video has also become a successful awareness-raising tool for thousands of viewers in classrooms, health centers, television broadcast audiences, and film festivals across the globe. The video is a rare example of youth-produced media from a developing country and a powerful example of the possibilities of communication for social change. Click here to read more about where the video has been seen. Or click here to find out about requesting a copy of the video.



    The graduates of Breaking the Silence have a special place in our hearts. Although we do not currently have resources to conduct formal follow up activities with graduates, we do enjoy hearing and sharing news about them every now and then. We know that some have begun their college careers, some have completed their studies and are working their first jobs, while others are still finishing secondary education. Many of the graduates still volunteer to make peer leadership presentation on HIV/AIDS in their communities. Our plan is to continue integrating graduates in future Breaking the Silence programming.

    It should also be noted that upon completion of the 2003 program, our first Breaking the Silence graduates were very eager to continue meeting as a group. It took some time to work out the logistics, however, three years later, these youth are organizing their own meetings every few months. They work on special projects, such as World AIDS Day activities, craft-making to benefit teenage mothers, first aid and refresher HIV/AIDS courses, etc. They also discuss ideas for future videos and contributions they want to make to the Breaking the Silence program.



    Breaking the Silence staff are occasionally invited to make public presentations on the program itself. In the past, these presentations have been tailored to audiences of high school, college and university students, community organizers, international development workers, HIV/AIDS specialists, media professionals and, of course, general audiences. Click here to read more about some of these public presentations or to request a presentation.



    One of our sustainability strategies includes indentifying sources of earned-income. Earned-income is a way for us to use our assets to generate cash that is re-invested in Breaking the Silence programming. Earned-income, in theory, makes us less dependent on grants and donations to run our program. Our video equipment and trained youth videomakers are one obvious resource for generating earned-income. Although providing equipment rentals and production services is still an idea in its infancy, we welcome your inquiries. Click here for information on how to contact us if you would like to contract production services in St. Lucia.



    Over the years, we have met people who have expressed interest in starting programs similar to Breaking the Silence in various different places. The founders and lead staff of Breaking the Silence can be hired as consultants to provide expertise and advice from firsthand experience. If you have funding available, it is also possible to have us customize an HIV/AIDS and/or peer leadership and/or media literacy program for your community. Click here for information on how to contact us if you would like to hire a consultant.