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CAMBA Connection July 2012

Young Filmmakers Shine at Midtown Premiere

CAMBA Connection, July 2012


As the kids climbed out of yellow school buses in Midtown Manhattan, there was no mistaking them---these middle-schoolers in the suits and party dresses were the day’s stars. Four busloads of CAMBA participants stepped out onto the sidewalk in front of the Directors Guild of America Theater on 57th Street. They posed for the cameras, took in the moment and made their way inside for the big show.

It was the premiere screening of the Tribeca Teaches program, where 14 student-made films would play on the big screen, showcasing the hard work and creativity of young filmmakers from four CAMBA youth programs and other programs around the city.

Now in its third year, CAMBA’s partnership with the Tribeca Teaches program gives students the opportunity to take part in the filmmaking process from start to finish.

“Through Tribeca Teaches, our CAMBA participants have been able to work with an experienced filmmaker to develop, shoot and edit films on topics of interest to them,” said Christie Hodgkins, CAMBA’s Director of Youth Development.

This year’s films ranged from documentary to a good old-fashioned horror flick:

  • In “Our School,” from One World at the Brooklyn School of Global Studies, middle-school students explore the possibility that their school may be closed the next year.
  • From CAMBA Kids at P.S. 25, students delve into the good and bad of their neighborhood in “The Bed Stuy."
  • Horror rears its terrifying head in “The Doll,” with Beacon 271 haunted by a disembodied mannequin head. Beacon 271 also represents with “Tomboy,” in which a student tells of her experiences as a tomboy; and “The ‘N Word’,” a look into the school’s surrounding community to gain insight to the origins and usage of the n-word. 
  • And, from Beacon 269, “Raymone” tells the transformational story of a gang member-turned-dancer, now working toward his high school diploma.

“The process of making the film really teaches the students about collaboration outside of the classroom,” said Vee Bravo, Education Director at the Tribeca Film Institute. “And when the films are screened in front of hundreds of people, all that hard work is affirmed... it validates the work, and that’s so important for kids at that age.”

On top of seeing their work on the big screen, the young filmmakers got a truly rare chance to chat with a film legend. Robert De Niro, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Institute, stopped by to mingle with the students and share his experiences in a Q&A before the show.

De Niro’s message to his young audience:  “Do what you love.”

The screening included six CAMBA-made films from four middle-school programs, plus others from school-based programs around New York City and one in Los Angeles. Throughout the screening, cheers and chants filled the theater, making clear the students’ enjoyment of the films and their pride in what they had accomplished.

“CAMBA is so grateful to the Tribeca Film Institute for supporting the Tribeca Teaches project at four CAMBA youth programs,” said Hodgkins. “We believe in offering our young people opportunities to develop their skills and talents, and our partnership with the Tribeca Film Institute allows us to achieve this goal.”

You can watch all of this year’s student-made films here.


CAMBA Launches Social Campaign to Fight HIV Stigma

CAMBA Connection, July 2012


“HIV Stigma Scars. Heal the Pain. End the Shame.” That’s the valuable message Brooklyn bus-goers can take in this month as they wait for their next ride.

The message is the theme of this year’s social marketing campaign from CAMBA’s HIV Anti-Stigma Project. In its third year, the campaign kicked off on July 1st with its transit ads---at bus shelters and on bus tailgates around Brooklyn---touting the project’s perennial goal: to eradicate the stigma of living with HIV/AIDS.

Developed in close collaboration with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Bureau of HIV Prevention and Control, the campaign focuses on the African-American, Afro-Caribbean, African and Latino communities of Central Brooklyn, where infection rates are high.

While the anti-stigma mission is largely one of mind-set, its effects are very real: By ending HIV stigma, people will be more willing to get tested, use protection and talk more openly about HIV---all measures that could lead to lower rates of infection.

In addition to the transit ads, which will last through July at these locations, the campaign is extending its reach and impact through ads in local newspapers, online periodicals and in a movie theater. Social media is an integral part of the campaign: Foursquare users can check in at the bus shelter ads, and people can share photos of the ads on CAMBA’s Facebook page.

Also part of the outreach effort is the Anti-Stigma Project’s live theater troupe. The troupe performs for audiences in the target communities to illustrate HIV-related stigma and show the personal effect it can have on individuals.

“When someone treats you differently because of the way you look or what you have, that’s stigma and it hurts,” says “BB” an HIV-positive Brooklyn resident. “People living with HIV are no different than anyone else; we are people who are living with a virus.”

To learn more about CAMBA’s HIV Anti-Stigma Project and about what steps you can take to end HIV stigma, visit


Brooklyn Children Support CAMBA Through the Power of Pennies

CAMBA Connection, July 2012


Students at two Brooklyn elementary schools have shown CAMBA a thing or two about charity. We’d like to send the most heartfelt of thanks to the students at Crown Heights’ P.S. 316 and the Brooklyn Friends Lower School for choosing CAMBA as the recipient of their Penny Harvest fundraising this past school year. The generous, community-minded students raised over $1,000 to help support CAMBA’s mission! Thank you to all of them and to their teachers and school staff who helped make this possible.

"We're honored that the students at P.S. 316 and Brooklyn Friends chose CAMBA as their Penny Harvest recipient," said Joanne Oplustil, Executive Director of CAMBA. "The kids' charitable spirit is truly humbling and we'll use their contributions to further the work we do every day."



Employee Profile:
Vlad Pronin

Database Project Coordinator (Human Resources), 1720 Church Ave.
CAMBA Connection, July 2012

What is your current position and program at CAMBA?
I am currently working as a Database Project Coordinator II on the HR – Performance-based Management Team. I’ve been employed by CAMBA since 2001.

Have you held other positions at CAMBA?
I was Database Developer for MIS department at CAMBA’s main office on 1720 Church Avenue.

What part of your job do you find most rewarding?
Seeing CAMBA clients do well, learning about and improving their life styles, and the feeling that I am part of this process.

What are two important things that you have learned while working at CAMBA?
Two things that I learned while working in CAMBA are: There is always room for improvement; and team work really does the trick.

Why do you do what you do?
I’ve been working in the computer field for over 20 years... and I really like it.

What one thing would you most like colleagues at CAMBA to know about you?
I love hunting and fishing.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, and I came to the U.S. in 1993.

What are your favorite styles of music?
Hard Rock and Rock and Roll

If an actor/actress were to play you in a movie, who would it be and why?
Clint Eastwood. He is tough, smart and sometimes funny.

What is your favorite spot or thing to do in New York City?
My family loves Broadway shows.

Where is your favorite place to get lunch in Brooklyn?
I love Mexican and Japanese food, and whenever I have a chance, I visit one of the local places.

What profession would you like to try out?
I love books and love reading. I would love to have been a librarian in the Ancient Library of Alexandria (Greece) before it was burned and ruined.

What is your favorite story about life in New York City?
My son competed at the high-school level in chess and when he became the Grand Master Champion 2007, he actually got to meet and shake hands with Mayor Bloomberg.  It was cool to see him interacting with the mayor of the Capital of the World and a proud moment for me as a parent.

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