NOTE: as always, this is written on the go, off-the-cuff, without spellcheck, and absent of review. forgive typos and sentences that don't make sense. that's the cost of this business. :)
the hemophilia federation of America holds an annual symposium each year, bringing the bleeding disorders family together for education, updates, and community.
for the past few years, I've spent the majority of my time with the teen program. This year had to be the best teen program that I experienced thus far.
believe Digi was responsible for 3 teen specific events, including auditions for Season 3 of STB! and a red carpet event to build some hype in the middle of the convention area.
we could not have asked for a better turnout.
During our audition program, all of the 30ish teens were incredibly brave and TALENTED when it came time to show off their performance chops. We used some of the footage in the Season 3 premiere episode (coming out April 1) and will use more in episodes 2 & 3 as well as in some of our supplemental videos.
"turning passion into action" was a workshop that I co-ran with Seth Kirschner, Jonathan James (Hope for Hemophilia) and Robert Champagne (CJWCC). we spoke with the teens about their various passions and how they could develop those into substantial parts of their future.
there were a lot of great takeaways from that session, but none better than when one of our teens, who lives with some mental & social considerations, made a confession that we was very nervous about, but when he shared with the group, literally half of our teens spoke us to tell him about similar truths in their lives. Forgive the vaguery, I have to respect the request for privacy, but trust me when I tell you that the love the group showed to this young individual moved me (and others) to tears.
our red carpet event was silly and superb! There will be footage of that in the coming weeks, so keep an eye on YouTube.com/believedigi.
then came time for the STB! Premiere. We had a great, packed house including about half the teens (and their families) and around 15 people from Baxter (our sponsor). The response to the episode was fantastic, the talkback was engaging, our "trophy" ceremony was a big hit, and our sendoff song - Bleed On Me - brought the whole house to their feet!
on Saturday, Ryan and I had a couple of meetings, I got to spend some time with Elise, my favorite 5-year-old, then Seth and I caught up with the teen crew in time for their closing bowling event. Needless to say, we had a ton of laughs.
debrief feedback from the teens was honest and articulate. they had a blast and gave some great ideas on how to continue making the program bigger and better! I'm already excited for next year.
saturday night ended with an extended dance party at the Final Night Event in which a group of 2-5 year olds and one 6'2" 28 year old danced around like goofballs. my joints are feeling it today, but it was worth every minute of it.
on the flight back to LA now, a few big takeaways.
1) in it's 3rd season, STB! enjoyed it's first premiere screening. It was super well attended and received a tremendous response. maybe this HFA premiere is an emerging model for our every-other-season launch.
2) Janel and Ziggy are rockstars at co-running the teen program, and the supporting committe volunteers (John, Shelly, & Alex) were perfect compliments to J and Z's energy.
3) the teens so appreciate having an organized structure to hangout in, to get to know each other and develop as advocates, community members, and individuals. the contributions from the committee and guests go a long way toward giving them a fantastic experience.
4) it's a unique joy getting to watch not just Ryan now, and not just Shua, but also Seth get to know more of the community members and watch the community get to know them. Diversifying the influencers of the community and raising awareness through entertainment are two pretty cool things I get to do.
5). this community is a family. HFA's symposium is 1 of 2 opportunities for the family to get together. We're very fortunate to have HFA working hard to keep providing us these opportunities.
Leaving tampa feeling fulfilled, grateful, and excited to share all of our STB! and #HFA2014 content throughout April!