AFT partners on film project that will help Miami's youth

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The AFT and its United Teachers of Dade (Fla.) affiliate are working together with members of the Miami community, including the Overtown Youth Center and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, to partner with Hollywood filmmaker Robert Townsend and NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas in a film production designed to engage young adults and teach them the art of film making.

The upcoming film "Playin' for Love" is part of a community film initiative that includes a movie production and student training program in which Hollywood artists will teach and mentor young people in Miami's historic Overtown neighborhood. Local youth will appear as actors in the movie and be trained in all aspects of making a small independent film, including editing, directing, sound design, wardrobe, cinematography and production. Auditions for the film were held earlier this month.

The film centers around an arrogant, celebrated high school basketball coach, whose life is turned upside down when a superstar player transfers to his school and the player's mother tries to take over the team.

"The entire community has a shared responsibility to provide positive opportunities for our young people," says AFT president Randi Weingarten. "Those behind this project understand the importance of linking this work to the teachers and schools who are such a vital part of our students' lives. This is a wonderful example of a community working together for the good of its kids. We are very happy to be on board."

"I am glad to see the attention and concern from celebrities like Robert Townsend and Isiah Thomas in the Overtown community. As a product of this community, I know firsthand that these types of initiatives make a difference" says UTD secretary-treasurer Fedrick Ingram. "The United Teachers of Dade is a proud partner of this project, and we salute our members and the children who will be a part of this groundbreaking opportunity. It's a win-win for everyone."

UTD president Karen Aronowitz, who is an AFT vice president, notes that the project "is really an extension of the work our members do every single day on behalf of the children and young adults in our community."

"This project was created to give young people something to say 'yes' to," says Thomas. "This is not just using the arts and sports to engage young people; it's using both to give them an opportunity to grow and learn." [United Teachers of Dade, City of Miami]

November 13, 2012