.- A seventh grade religion class in Hawaii won an annual contest held by the U.S. bishops’ social justice branch with a mini-documentary on the problem of homelessness in the state.

Junior high students from St. John Vianney Catholic School in Kailua, Hawaii won the 2010 Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty initiative of the U.S. bishops.

The eight minute video titled “Family of Promise” was written, directed and shot by seventh graders, who gathered statistics and conducted interviews on the growing issue of homelessness in Hawaii.

In their submission, the group highlighted the local Hawaiian branch of the Family Promise program, which involves local churches hosting homeless families a week at a time and helping them address the factors that have contributed to their poverty.

“This video reflects the reality that homelessness really can happen to anyone,” said Ralph McCloud, director of CCHD.

“The students involved initially thought homeless people were alcoholics and drug addicts but, after interacting with homeless families, found compassion and understanding,” he added.

“They learned about the causes of homelessness and how people can combat these causes. This greatly reflects the mission of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.”

The Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest for grades 7-12 has been running since 2001, engaging youth in Catholic schools across the country to learn about and help address root causes of poverty. The 2010 theme was, “Empowering Communities, Uprooting Poverty,” and encouraged students to present their findings through visual arts, media or literature.

The honor was awarded on Dec.10 in front of 2,500 youth ministers at the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry in New Orleans.