In 2016, the average Canadian spent approximately 6 hours on YouTube each month. But can Canadians really be at fault for spending such an inordinate amount of time streaming YouTube videos? Between musical parodies, sketch comedies, cooking videos and original fan fictions, there’s something on YouTube for everyone.
Fans of country music, Star Wars, puzzles and make-up tutorials can expect to exceed their 6-hour average viewing time this month, courtesy of some incredibly talented folks supported by Community Living Windsor.
Under the guidance of Direct Support Professional Adam Rideout-Arkell, the organization embarked on an ambitious plan to transform their art room into a Content Creation Studio, wherein people were given the opportunity to record professional quality videos that could be shared via YouTube. With the help of some lights, a green screen, a couple of quality speakers and a computer work station, several people have been able to share their passions and interests with the world to boisterous applause.
Rideout-Arkell was already familiar with editing software and recording procedures and sought to incorporate this experience within his work at Community Living Windsor.
“We are encouraged to use our talents and come up with new ideas. So, I wrote this proposal about people I support sharing their talents on the internet,” said Rideout-Arkell.
One of the first people to share their talents and interests with the world via YouTube was Bob Cookson, known as Country Bob, an avid fan of country music.
Bob has already uploaded several videos to his own channel, in which he performs vocal covers of some of country music’s biggest hits including Charlie Pride’s Crystal Chandeliers and Johnny Cash’s Walk the Line.
Prior to uploading covers to his YouTube channel, Bob performed at both karaoke and local fiddling contests, as well as for his friends and family. His videos and passion for country music led to a paid gig at Community Living Windsor’s Annual General Meeting this past Wednesday evening.
Bob is not alone in sharing his talents and interests with the world via YouTube, as he is joined by Joan Merlo, Katelyn Weidman and Jacob Salagan. Each of their channels contains impressive visuals and even more remarkable soon-to-be YouTube stars.
Both casual viewers and lifelong Star Wars fans alike will be impressed with Jacob’s encyclopedic knowledge of George Lucas’ carefully constructed cinematic universe, while those with an interest in makeup and fashion will be able to learn some incredible tips from Katelyn’s vlog. Joan’s time lapse videos of her completing puzzles offer viewers in need of relaxation a necessary break from the excitement of everyday life.
The content creation studio provides the people who take part with a sense of accomplishment and pride in one’s work. It also provides various avenues for the emergence of these feelings of personal achievement. With the assistance of support professionals, these budding YouTube stars are given the opportunity to see their videos through from the inception of their respective video ideas, to the promotion of the video.
For Rideout-Arkell, it is through sharing one’s talents and interests via YouTube that people who have an intellectual disability are able to “have the sense that they’re creating something and that is theirs.”
The studio has also allowed people to become more visible within the online community. This process is manifested most prominently in Katelynn Weidman’s recent video, in which she speaks about what it’s like to be a person who has a disability and the need for inclusion. Here, Katelyn explains what having a developmental delay is like.
“Imagine that you had duct tape over your mouth and couldn’t explain how you felt. That’s how we feel sometimes,” Katelyn described.
YouTube viewers may not have extensive interactions with people who have an intellectual disability, but when people such as Katelyn make themselves visible and share their experiences they are able to both challenge stereotypes and remind viewers that everyone deserves to be included. Katelyn concludes her video with a piece of fantastic advice for how we can best support people who have a developmental delay or intellectual disability. She states that we should all “Be kind and don’t shut us out, bring us in and help us.”
Other Community Living organizations may be hesitant about establishing their own content creation studio, but this apprehension is unfounded. It is relatively inexpensive to establish and doesn’t require support professionals to be particularly tech savvy.
At the most basic level, the creation of a content creation studio only requires a digital camera and access to the internet. If the organization has access to a smartphone, tablet or computer with a webcam they already have the resources necessary for a studio, as videos can be uploaded to YouTube directly from all the aforementioned devices. Organizations with access to both a digital camera and computer can also easily upload videos to YouTube.
As Rideout-Arkell states, “It takes some technical skills, or a willingness to learn, but it’s really not that complicated.”
Spencer Jacklin, Community Living Ontario