Cool and calm

KAPAA — A video that started as an assignment for a class project ended in national recognition.

In March, Kapaa Middle School students Celeste Velarde and Arianna White were instructed to make a 60-second Public Service Announcement for an online contest for their digital media class.

Velarde and White said they wanted to highlight anxiety and mental health issues. They just needed to find a contest that would let them explore their chosen topic.

“We chose to do a video on anxiety attacks because it is a common issue for the teen community,” Velarde said. “We hope that teens identify with the video and realize that they are not alone and can ask for help in how to overcome anxiety.”

They entered their PSA in the “No Bull Challenge,” a national organization that inspires teens to take action against bullying through film making.

Earlier this month, the girls found out they won the “People’s Choice Awards,” and were sent certificates in recognition of their hard work.

The “People’s Choice Awards” was judged based on the number of shares the video had on social media.

As of Thursday, the video had been seen on the No Bull website 1,950 times since March.

“I screamed, and then I cried. Then I called Arianna,” Velarde said. “We celebrated with sushi.”

After getting the news, the girls emailed their digital media teacher, Chris Sanderl, to tell him the news.

“He emailed us back, saying we should be really proud of ourselves because this is a big accomplishment,” White said.

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

During the PSA, a girl 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.

The No Bull contest featured the talents of students between the ages of 15 and 23, White said.

She and Velarde, who were 13 at the time of the contest, were the youngest people to enter.

White, who served as executive producer of the PSA, was in charge of filming.

“I gained confidence in my own ability to produce something like this,” she said.

White and Velarde shared editing responsibilities. Velarde also served as the main actress.

“I gained confidence in myself,” she said.

But the real prize, White said, is highlighting an important issue in the community.

“Although it was nice that we won a national contest, it was more important that we got our message across and maybe helped other young people,” she said.

White and Velarde, who will be high school freshmen in the fall, hope their success will inspire Kauai students to reach their dreams, no matter how high they seem to be.

“It’s such a small community here, and I hope people who see what we did will get the confidence to pursue what they want to do,” Velarde said.

To view the PSA, go to drowning-in-fear


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