Spotlight Festival 2017

Every year, the California Friday Night Live Partnership and the California Office of Problem Gambling host the Spotlight Festival in Anaheim, California. The Spotlight Festival is a space where youth all across California who participated in Betting on our Future (BOOF) project come together to celebrate their work and learn more about problem gambling and leadership.

AACI BOOF has been participating in BOOF and the Spotlight Festival for seven years.  We have been recognized for our high-quality PSAs and visionary youth stories. 2017 was our seventh year at Spotlight and it was definitely a year that will be remembered for its sheer numbers and learning experiences.

Here are a few of our Biggest Spotlight Takeaways:

  1. Team-building is crucial. After spending about nine months together creating and producing videos, you would think all the BOOFies would know about team-building. But when you task them with creating a 1-minute long video in two days with completely NEW team members—that’s a different story. This project is called “Spotlight LIVE!” All of the youth participants at the conference were split into teams, mixed up with others from all around the state, to create fun news stories, movie trailers, and interviews to teach about problem gambling.Another example of team-building at the Spotlight Festival occurred during the Disney YES Experience. The YES Experience is a leadership team-building workshop and tour hosted by a Disneyland cast member. As we learned about Walt Disney’s leadership style and dreams, we also explored our own—while also exploring the park! At the end of the experience, our tour guide led a team-building activity that consisted of holding hands in a giant circle and wiggling through hula hoops!
  2. Everyone can be a superhero. The theme of the Spotlight Festival was “The Summer of Heroes.” The hosts and the guest speakers highlighted again and again the point that every single one of us is a superhero. Especially with the work the youth produced all year, spreading awareness of problem gambling to the communities, we know that each person’s contributions can truly make a difference.
  3. Remember empathy. Empathy is when you feel with others; whatever they’re experiencing, you hear them out and you feel for them. Any given person at any given time could have something positive or negative to say about the conference, that’s just how conferences go. With 29 sites and over 300 youth participants in attendance, things did get a little wild. Communication was sometimes difficult, among sites, adult advisors, and youth teams. It was tough, not only to communicate, but also to empathize with others. Everybody experiences things a little differently than their neighbor, so it’s always important to remember that people feel things differently and react differently than you will. If anything, our experiences at Spotlight this year gave us more of a reason as to how our projects and our personal actions affect others.

All in all, this year’s Spotlight was similar to previous years’; we met new people, we created new stories, and we took pride in our hard work and the work of our fellow BOOFies. We were enthralled to premiere our documentary to the rest of the state and can’t wait to go back next year!


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