Back to top

Critical Media Health Literacy

A giant stone face at The Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, Cambodia Just when I think cultivating healthy kids and healthy schools is too much of an uphill battle, I am inspired by young people (and the adults in their lives) like Zach Maxwell who understand what it means to be both creative and critical in their uses of media technology to navigate treacherous waters of youth. In this case, it’s school lunch. Zach’s documentary: “Yuck: A 4th Grader’s Short Documentary about School Lunch” (19 mins) has won multiple awards and is a powerful example of how media literacy education can not only benefit a child—but can change a community. Here’s the description and trailer from yuckmovie.com:

Zachary is a fourth grader at a large New York City public elementary school.   Each day he reads the Department of Education lunch menu online to see what is being served.  The menu describes delicious and nutritious cuisine that reads as if it came from the finest restaurants.  However, when Zachary gets to school, he finds a very different reality.  Armed with a concealed video camera and a healthy dose of rebellious courage, Zachary embarks on a six month covert mission to collect video footage of his lunch and expose the truth about the City’s school food service program.

It’s worth it to mention that it all started with a disagreement between Zach and his parents. What an effective way to civilly dissent, yes? [learn more]


Vanessa Domine is the author of Rethinking Technology in Schools (2009, Peter Lang). Her forthcoming book is titled, “Healthy Teens, Healthy Schools: How Media Literacy Can Save Education in the United States.” 

Leave a Comment