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Salem YMCA opens new media center and program for teens

Posted by Ryan Mooney  November 20, 2012 01:45 PM

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Photos courtesy of the Salem YMCA

The Salem YMCA has announced the creation of a new program dedicated to helping teens improve their professional skills in the areas of social media, video and audio production.


The new SAYMedia center, located in the recently-renovated basement of the Northshore YMCA's Salem location on Sewall Street, will open to the public in a ceremony on Tuesday, December 11.

The shift toward reliance on social media in so many varied industries, and the necessary tech-knowledge required of potential employees, is not lost on those preparing Salem's youth for life in the professional workforce.

The Northshore YMCA recently opened a multi-purpose media center in the basement of its Salem location on Sewall Street, where teens can earn the type of skills valued in today's highly connected professional world . A grand opening for the public, doubling as a ceremony to thank donors, will be held on Tuesday, December 11, at 5 p.m.

The center and the program, dubbed SAYMedia, will be sustained by donations from local businesses. It aims to improve teens' abilities to use social media professionally and provide hands-on experience with various media software and tools, such as video and audio editing programs.

"The goal of the program is to teach marketable technical skills and to promote creativity among the teen participants," Salem YMCA Director Charity Lezama said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

The YMCA received a $25,000 start-up grant from the Moseley Foundation, based in Maine, and launched a pilot program this summer.

"When the kids come into the program they're exposed to all different aspects [of multimedia] and then they can choose their path, whatever they're interested in," Lezama said. "The primary focus is probably for students who are interested in visual, audio and media arts."

Lezama has teamed up with local entrepreneurs Kevin Letourneau, an entertainment producer and CEO of Go Out Loud, a gay pride group based in Salem, and Anders Johnson of Intermedia Unlimited to run the program. Johnson will hold open walk-in hours at the center Monday through Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m., and he will begin holding classes at Salem Charter School next week.

“The more a community has access and knowledge of how to leverage content creation, the better off everyone is; for more compelling community awareness, creative marketing strategies and future employment opportunities in an evolving economy,” Letourneau said in a statement.

Gate 3, an interior design company based in Beverly, signed on to become the program's first long-term sponsor, and donated $10,000 in funds and materials to transform the space that was once the Y's Teen Center into the SAYMedia Center.

"We're thrilled to have been able to help create a welcoming, hip and creative environment for teens to develop creative and competitive skills,” Gate 3 CEO Ryan Shefferman said in a statement.

Lezama said the Y is also working with Salem State University on collaborative projects that will get teens involved with the university. Lezama estimates approximately 24 students have been involved in the program at any given time since it began this summer, and expects about 50 guests at the grand opening ceremony.

Ryan Mooney can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mooney_ryan.

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