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‘Speaking Our Truths’: IYF docu-series concludes

In the fifth and final edition of the –Ism Youth Files podcasts, host Mila Kashiwabara and other young artists conclude a two-year journey by talking about the meanings of mental health.


Stage & Studio debuts the final episode of MediaRites‘ five-part documentary series of interviews and creative writing by and with 20 young artists and writers.

Host Mila Kashiwabara bring us “A Mental Health Journey,” based on the title of the essay she wrote when she was 10, when The -Ism Youth Files project began. Now she’s 12, and she’s the host of the final podcast episode. MediaRites gathered the youth writers in the Speaking Our Truths book together to delve into what mental health looks like for them. They speak honestly about the meaning of mental wellness, what gives them comfort, what they’ve learned from the pandemic milestone, and how they are still working to achieve healthy lives.

Featuring writers Genevieve Arce, Deandre Avant, Ellenore Celko, Cara Chen, Journeya, Danica Leung, Erik Nielson, Kaitlyn O’Neill, and Freya Sticka.

“It will be something we look back on and whether there’s another pandemic or there’s just some event that needs to be overcome, it would be a good way to recalibrate and say, ‘We’ve done this before. We are capable of overcoming it and moving forward.’” – Kaitlyn O’Neill, quoted in this episode.


All episodes feature music by Tomo Singh in Boston, Mass. Podcast is appropriate for ages 14 and up. A content warning begins each episode for listeners. Podcast episodes conclude on Friday, October 13, on Stage & Studio on ArtsWatch.

MediaRites, a Portland nonprofit led by Executive Producer Dmae Lo Roberts, created the series Speaking Our Truths: The –Ism Youth Files (IYF). This is a culmination of a two-year book and podcast project detailing the effects of the pandemic on youth mental health. This series of half-hour episodes features interviews with 20 youth artists and writers who submitted work and were chosen to be a part of The -Ism Youth Files project.


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Their work (which includes essays, poems, graphic novels, and artwork) is now available as an anthology book available in paperback or ebook form on Amazon.  We listen to them describe the trials they have overcome, including a global pandemic, and how various factors have impacted their mental health and wellness and how they have overcome to flourish now.

For more information about the project, the published book or ebook, or to download a free youth mental health toolkit, visit MediaRites.org.

The –Ism Youth files book and podcast project was produced by Dmae Lo Roberts with Amanda Anderson and Samson Syharath. Literary works editor was Sandra de Helen and the mental health consultant is Dr. Eleanor Gil-Kashiwabara of Luminosa Psychological Services. The episodes were mixed and mastered by Clark Salisbury.

Listen to episode one here.

Listen to episode two here.

Listen to episode three here.

Listen to episode four here.


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Photo Joe Cantrell

Dmae Roberts is a two-time Peabody winning radio producer, writer and theatre artist. Her work is often autobiographical and cross-cultural and informed by her biracial identity. Her Peabody award-winning documentary Mei Mei, a Daughter’s Song is a harrowing account of her mother’s childhood in Taiwan during WWII. She adapted this radio documentary into a film. She won a second Peabody-award for her eight-hour Crossing East documentary, the first Asian American history series on public radio. She received the Dr. Suzanne Ahn Civil Rights and Social Justice award from the Asian American Journalists Association and was selected as a United States Artists (USA) Fellow. Her stage plays and essays have been published in numerous publications. She published her memoir The Letting Go Trilogies: Stories of a Mixed-Race Family in 2016. As a theatre artist, she has won two Drammys, one for her acting and one for her play Picasso In The Back Seat which also won the Oregon Book Award. Her plays have been produced in Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, NYC and Florida. Roberts is the executive producer of MediaRites, a nonprofit multicultural production organization and co-founder of Theatre Diaspora, an Asian American/Pacific Islander non-profit theatre that started as a project of MediaRites. She created the Crossing East Archive of more than 200 hours of broadcast-quality, pan-AAPI interviews and oral histories. For 23 years, Roberts volunteered to host and produce Stage & Studio live on KBOO radio. In 2009, she started the podcast on StagenStudio.com, which continues at ArtsWatch.

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