Cinemedia student Jose Almanza breaks down why littering is bad for West Beach.
Courtesy Photo

It was a sunny warm day at West Beach in Santa Barbara, and everyone was having fun swimming, sailing, and surfing. I could taste the salty ocean as I walked along the shore listening to the waves churning as they hit the sand and feeling the breeze on my face.

When I was handed a camera, I suddenly remembered why I was there: We were going to make a creek video. The video, which is entitled “Jose at West Beach,” includes my perspective of how I see pollution affecting the beaches as it comes from the streets, then into the creeks, and eventually ending up in the ocean.

When the camera started rolling, different students started interviewing me. I was a little intimidated being in front of a video camera, but the fact that I was doing it for a good cause kept me into it. It felt good knowing what we were producing was going to inform our community about pollution and how it affects everyone. I was up for it.

As I walked around and did my interviews, I saw broken bottles, wrappers, clothes, and all sorts of trash. It made me realize that, as Latinos, some of us play a part in trash collecting at the beach. So there we were, willing to pick it up and throw what we could away even though we may not have left it there ourselves. It takes a whole community to make change – Latino or not, rich or poor, it doesn’t matter. The ocean is for everyone to enjoy and the health of the planet is our shared responsibility.

Learning how to present oneself on camera is just one skill taught to Jose Almanza by Youth Cinemedia.
Courtesy Photo

This video project, which you can watch here, is being made through a program I am in called Youth CineMedia (YCM). Founded six years ago, YCM works with teens from different neighborhoods to produce a variety of multimedia projects around issues important to us. The program works with different kids from different backgrounds. Some teens might be in gangs, while others are recovering drug addicts. There are pregnant teens, those behind in school, and those looking for jobs.

The whole Youth Cinemedia crew kicking it sand-style down at West Beach.
Courtesy Photo

In my view, this program helps the youth because it gives them other alternatives such as music/video production, editing, photography, and computer software skills. Youth CineMedia keeps kids focused on productive and helpful learning experiences so in the future they will have skills that they will need to succeed in life. So far, this program has given me opportunities that I never thought would be open to me and I’m thankful for it.

For the past year and a half we have been providing video, photography, and graphic design services to the Creeks Division of the City of Santa Barbara, partially funded by hotel visitors through Measure B. Creek Week is during the month of October, so you can expect us to be writing more articles and uploading our video projects that focus on the environment. That everyone can see the work we’re doing gives me a good feeling. Being able to experience new and progressive activities is what Youth CineMedia is all about.

Not only does Youth Cinemedia teach kids useful skills, it also informs the community on why littering is bad.
Courtesy Photo

I hope you enjoy my video and I look forward to your comments. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for our weekly “Street Focus” column on, which will continue to feature articles, photographs, and videos from the youth.

Special thanks to those who helped make the movie: Frank Flores (video camera), Rogelio Hernandez (photography), Maximina Carachure (photography), Jonathan Alonso (editing), Rudy Gallegos (editing), Rey Lopez (editing), and anyone else who worked on the project.

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