LUMBERTON —Local students are getting a running start at making Robeson County more accessible for active lifestyles.
Two teams from Robeson County high schools recently won the Lights, Camera, Active! student video contest. The contest challenged students to make videos about how the “built environment” — man-made surroundings that may or may not support healthy living — affects their lives.
“I think that they actually went out and looked at their communities to see what they did have and what they didn’t have and before I don’t think they really cared,” said Susan Patterson, the adviser for the Purnell Swett team. “They knew that the school had a track, but I don’t think they really knew what Pembroke had to offer.”
The teams, comprised of Lumberton High School seniors Myles Roam, Isaiah Kennedy, Austin Hunt and Devin Lockman,and Purnell Swett seniors Avie Burns and Raven Woods, were honored recently at a red-carpet event at the Carolina Civic Center.
Burns, Woods and Roam were on a panel at the event, speaking to audience members that included community leaders, architects and and school leaders.
“I enjoyed letting my voice be heard,” Burns said. “It’s not too often you get to do something like that and get heard in the community.”
The goal of the contest, sponsored by Shape Your World, is to battle the nation’s obesity epidemic among young people. More than 500 student filmmakers videotaped their current built environment, including trails where they run, soccer fields where they compete, parks where they play and sidewalks and streets where they walk.
Burns and Woods’ video, rehearsed and shot in a single day, concentrated on Pembroke and what it does — and does not — have to offer.
“We talked about how at the parks you couldn’t ride bicycles and you couldn’t ride skateboards,” Woods said. “And areas around the college that did not have sidewalks and needed sidewalks.”
Patterson said the contest got the students off school grounds to study their environments.
“It really opened their eyes that the college students have to walk on the grass next to the highway to get to Food Lion and it’s very dangerous,” she said.
The two girls used puppets in their video to represent children, something they said made their video stand out. Woods said she hopes the video makes a difference in the community.
“You can complain about things, but if you don’t talk about it and initiate things then nothing is going to happen to make it improve,” Burns said.
Each team won a $50 gift card to a sports store as well as a video that included clips from all the winning videos.
The Lumberton High School team concentrated on what its hometown had to offer, visiting Northeast Park, the Boys and Girls Club and the intersection of Roberts Avenue and Fayetteville Road. Members said Lumberton could use more crosswalks for pedestrians.
“It’s improving slowly,” said Roam, talking about Lumberton’s built environment. “I can tell that by Northeast Park and some crosswalks that are starting to pop up in the city but I think it still has a long way to go.”
The group found out about the contest from broadcasting teacher Lydia Locklear.
“In our broadcasting class, we make a news program every day for the class to watch and it gets boring to do that every day so it was just a different project for us to do,” Roam said.
Their video, shot in an hour and a half after a brief brainstorming session, was edited to less than three minutes.
Roam was also on the panel at the event.
“I concentrated on proving a point to the an architect … and I was trying to get the point across that we need more parks period, just places for people to go to do something active,” Roam said.
Burns hoped to convince the audience of the same, that more parks would make it easier for people to walk to them, and sidewalks would make walking safer.
“It’s not just for us now,” Roam said. “It’s for future kids — they need a place to go out and be active so they don’t become obese.”