August 6, 2020


The Palm Beaches Student Showcase of Films (SSOF) teamed up with American Heart Association (AHA) to inspire health change in Florida communities. The 2020 Suzanne L. Niedland Documentary category asked students to use their storytelling skills to focus attention on the AHA mission and spark health conversations through film. A long-time supporter of the AHA, Suzanne Niedland said, “A compelling story can plant seeds of change for one individual or one community at a time.”

Suzanne L. Niedland and Carsen Jessell (Florda State University)

This year’s award winner Carsen Jessell is a graduate from A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts and is currently enrolled at Florida State University. His film Into the Flames interviews local Firefighters about the effects of mental health on their physical wellbeing. “Using Firefighters to tell this story was deliberate as they have one of the most high-stress jobs and therefore higher risks of emotional trauma,” said Jessell. Center for Creative Education (West Palm Beach) student finalist Tia Duhaney’s film Unwelcome: Homeless in the Shadow of the Sun covers homelessness and the health issues that ensue. Additionally, Inlet Grove High School (Riviera Beach) student finalist Alyssa Stephens’ film The Stories of an Epidemic explores the opioid crisis taking a toll on the overall health of communities in Palm Beach County.

Tia Duhaney (Center for Creative Education) and Kayla Fox (
American Heart Association of PBC)

“The social determinants of health are the socio-economic factors that impact your life and life expectancy from the time you’re born,” said Kayla Fox, Executive Director of the American Heart Association of Palm Beach County. “It is more imperative to tell these stories in Palm Beach County as many consider it a wealthy area, when in fact many communities struggle for basics.” The films can be viewed on the PROJECT: Community website at


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