Calming influence

KAPAA — Arianna White and Celeste Velarde want everyone to take a deep breath and listen.

“Anxiety is so common, but we don’t hear about it because it’s not a common subject,” said White, a Kapaa Middle School eighth grader.

“For those who don’t have it, we wanted to explain it to them because it’s hard to understand,” Velarde added.

For a digital media assignment that required students to make a 60-second Public Service Announcement for an online contest, the girls teamed up in hopes to spread awareness of anxiety and panic attacks.

After doing some research, they came across the “No Bull Challenge,” an organization that inspires teens to take action against bullying through film making.

“We were set on mental health awareness, and we wanted to find a contest that would fit the subject,” White said.

The project, assigned in December, took the girls about three months to complete.

On April 1, the girls found out they made the Top 25 videos and are in the running to win scholarship opportunities and a chance to have their film shown at the Teen Video Awards and the Sundance Film Festival.

“It was definitely a goal to win,” White said. “We told everyone to vote, so when we found out, we were extremely happy.”

Their digital media teacher, Chris Sanderl, said White and Velarde’s work is exemplary.

“These guys are professionals,” he said. “This is not middle school editing.”

The PSA depicted a panic attack by showing the anxiety some people go through when they have to present a project to the class.

During the PSA, a girl, played by Velarde, makes her way up to the class and starts to feel like she’s drowning. The scene is then cut to Velarde in a pool, trying to stay above water.

“We wanted to relate anxiety to something, so we went through a lot of ideas,” White said. “But drowning was the most realistic to do.”

But the drowning scene presented a challenge, Velarde said.

“I’m not the best swimmer,” she said.

As executive producer, White was in charge of filming, above and underwater. Both girls shared editing responsibilities.

“By the first critique, I could tell it was something great,” Sanderl said. “The audio was great; it wasn’t just voice-overs; they added a heartbeat and natural sound. They thought about the audience, and they were able to get hearts racing just from the audio.”

Their PSA will go against hundreds of entries from around the United States. As of Thursday, there were 1,250 views online, Velarde said.

There are four categories for the PSA competition: PSA of the Year, Best Message, Best Community Involvement and People’s Choice.

It was not the intent of the assignment for students to be finalists in a national competition, he added.

“It’s about building ownership and making deadlines,” Sanderl said.

To view the PSA, go to: http://contest.nobullchallenge.org/video/109989-drowning-in-fear

To give the girls a chance to win the People’s Choice Award, share it on social media accounts, using #NOBULLNation.

Winners will be announced May 13.

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Jenna Carpenter, education reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or jcarpenter@thegardenisland.com.

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