Welcome to West Farms in the South Bronx! There’s a lot of beauty here. Like the food, the music, and the spirit of the people. And there’s a lot of things that aren’t easy about living here. Like one of the highest rates of unemployment and poverty in New York City. West Farms also has some of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and asthma in the city. And the COVID-19 pandemic has made things even more difficult for a lot of our neighbors.

Why are there such high rates of poverty and unemployment in our community? How do these things impact our mental health? What can young people do to address mental health concerns in our community and take action to support our neighbors?

In the summer of 2021, CUP, Teaching Artist Hugo Rojas, and students from the Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School collaborated to investigate these questions. Students explored the issue through digital filmmaking, creating stop-motion animations, surveying community members, and interviewing stakeholders and decision makers.

The group gathered what they learned and created a short documentary film that explores how poverty impacts mental health. Watch the film below!

Students debuted their final project virtually through a public presentation, where they presented their film and shared their creative process.

See more photos of students in action here!

Watch the students’ debut presentation below.

What People Are Saying

“This program was a great experience. I would definitely recommend this program to others because you don’t only just get to learn about cameras, you get to learn about different topics that are happening now and impacting a lot of people. Overall I think this program helped us learn about a lot of different perspectives on the issue and about different people, and even ourselves.” – Moya Shannon, FLHFHS student

“This project made me feel more connected to my community, and it expanded my knowledge on my own community.” – Shabar Taylor, FLHFHS student

“After making this project, it definitely taught me that the Bronx is great and gave the Bronx some recognition. And learning about mental health – an issue that’s not really talked about – is really important too. And in the program we were building together as a community. And I would really encourage people to join CUP.” – Richard Lloyd, FLHFHS student

“I can’t say enough about how proud I am of the students. I was around all summer when the students were working on the film. This was the first time that students were back in the building after 18 months. So being able to do engaging, fun work that’s important was really a key part of our plan to get kids back into the building after the pandemic. Every experience we have with CUP is always tremendous. And our kids learn so much. They learn so much about the topic they choose, but also how to be creative and creating media and everything that goes along with that. We really couldn’t be prouder of what the kids accomplished and the final product. " Jeff Palladino, FLHFHS Principal

Resources & Links

Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School is a small high school that stresses creative and intellectual development and political and social involvement in our society.

Wellcome supports science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone.

Funding Support

This program is organized in collaboration with Wellcome. It is part of Mindscapes, Wellcome’s international cultural program about mental health.

Special Thanks

Thank you to our interviewees: Khadija Kone, Monxo Lopez, Dr. Michael McRae, Dr. Michelle Morse, Jeff Palladino, Meisha Porter, Joshua Poyer, and Alondra Rodriguez. Special thanks to Rebecca Jacobs and Steffie Kinglake.


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Hugo Rojas
  • Project Lead
  • Fielding Hong
  • Project Support
  • Ana Beirne-Meyer
    • Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School
    • Students
    • Angel Morales
    • Amya Wayne
    • Crichelle Ruiz
    • Damary Rodriguez
    • Darrain Vives
    • David Solano
    • Jose Hernadez
    • Richard Lloyd
    • Samoya Shannon
    • Shabar Taylor
    • Sharelle Smith
    • Odalys Smith
    • Tyana Cooper
    • Tyler Bolton
    • Zanera Bedell
    • Principal
    • Jeff Palladino

    • Assistant Principal
    • Nathan Larsen

      • Classroom Teacher
      • Daniel Nohejl