‘Hear Our Stories Holyoke’ Presents Young Parents’ Digital Stories

*** MEDIA ADVISORY ***

DATE:           Wednesday, May 7

TIME:            Noon to 2 p.m.

WHAT:          Young parents share their digital stories with each other, the media and the public

WHERE:       Visitor’s Center at Heritage State Park, Holyoke

Young parents will present their own first-person video narratives combining recorded voice, still and moving images, music and other sounds to share and communicate their experiences as young parents, as part of “Hear Our Stories,” a project led by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with the Community Adolescent Resources and Education (CARE) Center of Holyoke and others.

“The young women have prepared compelling video stories of their lives to share with their peers, the media and the public. They present their stories in ways very rarely seen before,” says Aline Gubrium of UMass Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences. Holyoke has the highest birth rate in Massachusetts to young women ages 15 to 19. She adds, “Although there are many young parents in the community, they seldom have an opportunity to share their experiences with the public.” 

“Hear Our Stories” focuses on Latinas women whose families are shifting or uprooted, for example, or who may have gone through the foster care system, say Gubrium and her research partner, UMass Amherst anthropologist Betsy Krause.

Krause says, “We hear complicated stories, not all about hardship and the harsh realities of being young mothers, but about rich experiences that observers might not expect. The women tell more complicated stories than could come out in the mass media, for sure.”

The young women use new media to reveal how they sense and negotiate sexual health disparities, in particular, the researchers say. “We hope to change the rather static conversation on young motherhood and sexuality, health and rights across generations by putting a human face on policy,” Gubrium points out.

“Hear Our Stories: Diasporic Youth for Sexual Rights and Justice,” is supported by a two-year, $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation’s Sexuality Research Initiative to Gubrium and Krause.