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Young Katrina survivors document their lives

Spike Lee handed out video cameras to New Orleans area high school students and told them to capture their lives in this hurricane-scarred city for the world to see.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Spike Lee handed out video cameras to New Orleans area high school students and told them to capture their lives in this hurricane-scarred city for the world to see.

“Let them know what’s happening down here, that everything isn’t okey-dokey,” said Lee, who directed “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” a four-hour documentary chronicling the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

The teens’ footage documenting Katrina’s aftermath will air monthly as part of a special CNN series “Children of the Storm.” The first segment, in which Lee and host Soledad O’Brien handed cameras to 11 students, aired Friday morning.

The series will run until the second anniversary of Katrina in August.

Students will document how the hurricane affected their lives and neighborhoods while also sharing their thoughts about the city’s recovery and their future in New Orleans, O’Brien said.

“You’re doing this for the world,” Lee said in the first segment. “Remember it’s not just for yourself.”

The students were told to document the trials of post-Katrina life, as well as the triumphs, said O’Brien, co-host of CNN’s “American Morning.” Students will be given general topics to discuss including family, their neighborhoods and crime.

“We picked kids who represented a lot of different parts of the city,” she said. “We really wanted to get a good cross-section.”

Lee’s role is to inspire the students, she said.

“I wanted him to explain to them, ‘This is how you tell your life, and this is what you think about,”’ O’Brien said. “We’ll be telling their story, while they’re telling their story.”