Mercyhurst University

You are here

Saving troubled teens is focus of film, 'Fly By Light'

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

For troubled teens on the streets of Washington, D.C., the hills of West Virginia might be just far enough away to rewrite their futures. Fly By Light is the compelling and personal story of four teens trying to do just that.

Mercyhurst University will present a special advanced screening of Fly By Light, an offering of the On Screen/In Person Series sponsored by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, on Sunday, Oct. 26, at 2 p.m. in the Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center.

An education initiative of the nonprofit One Common Unity, the Fly By Light Youth Ambassador program transports inner-city youth to the West Virginia wilderness where they engage in activities to build an appreciation and love for nature, conflict resolution skills, healthy self-expression through music and art and cultural change. The programs are designed to help young people confront the entrenched abuse, violence and neglect cycles of their past while teaching them healthy ways to deal with grief and trauma and build strong relationships with others.

Through breathtaking visuals from street corners to mountaintops, Fly By Light tells the intimate and emotional stories of Mark, Asha, Martha and Corey. For the first time in their lives, they play in mountain streams, sing under the stars and talk about their goals for the future. But as they return to D.C., each young person must face an unforgiving series of hurdles and roadblocks that threaten to derail their efforts to build better lives.

Recruited for the program off the streets, self-proclaimed thug Mark is skeptical as to whether the 8-day program can fix the problems he feels are far deeper.

“I know what it feels like to be broke, poor, homeless, everything,” says 17-year-old Mark. “I don’t talk enough about my feelings, and that’s because I’m not that emotional. I try to be emotionless for some reason. But everybody knows the reason; it’s always because of the past.”

Director and cinematographer Ellie Walton, known for such feature length documentaries as Chocolate City, Igual Que Tú and Walk With Me, will be present at the screening. She’ll join a panel of community leaders for a discussion on teen violence prevention following the film.

The On Screen/In Person film series is presented with support from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. For more information on Fly By Light, visit To read about One Common Unity and its youth outreach programs, visit Tickets for the screening are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and $1 for Mercyhurst students with ID. Tickets can be purchased by calling 814-824-3000 or by visiting