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Cruisin’ Creeks

Belen Sotelo, 15, Explains His Experience Working with Youth CineMedia


On a warm fall day, it was time to get to work, but not your typical work.

A group of students and our instructor set out with digital still and video cameras to a Santa Barbara creek. When we got there, we climbed down a nasty ladder and saw that the whole area was very dirty. We began working on cleaning the creek and documenting the project.

All of this is part of a youth program called Youth CineMedia. The program teaches teens a lot of things, including how to make videos, graphics, and take pictures.

My name is Belen Sotelo, I’m 15-years-old, and I go to San Marcos High School. I met the program’s instructor, Osiris, playing handball at the community center on a Monday afternoon this summer. He brought me to his studio to show me around. I liked what I saw and was interested in his youth program. A few days later, we went out to do the “Cruisin’ Creeks” project.

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The project surprised me because I never thought I would be doing something like this. As I went into the creek, I saw beer bottles, green moldy slime, and spray paint cans. I never thought that the creek would be that dirty, because I never took the time to take a close look. Something shocking to me was that, in this messy place, two beautiful yellow flowers were blooming. The flowers made me think that there was hope for this place.

A group of us started scoping the area out and taking pictures of the trash and flowers. We did this project to educate people about the importance of keeping the creeks clean. One of the best parts of it was that we got paid doing it and I really needed money for school clothes. We get paid for producing videos and media for the Santa Barbara City Creeks Division.

After a few hours of taking pictures and shooting videos, we went back to the studio and started editing. Eventually the video would be online to educate the public on keeping the creeks clean. I’ve lived in Santa Barbara my whole life and never thought much about keeping the creeks clean. Now, I think about keeping the creeks clean often, because the trash gets the ocean dirty.

A few weeks later, we finally finished the project and put it online. In January, our project will be shown at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. I felt proud of myself because I finished a big project and learned many things like how to operate a video camera.

I also learned a very important message: Don’t throw trash into the creeks because it all flows to the ocean!

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