Youth Empowerment Through The News School

Courtesy of The News School

Since the pandemic, a lot of changes have come. A lot of people have been greatly affected including the youth. From having school and some of us going through the transition to adulthood, I feel everybody can agree they could use a little motivation. If not motivation at least a little escape. In times like this places like The News School provides this for the youth.

What is The News School?

The News School is a journalism program for the youth of Little Village and Lawndale. As well as empowerment, the program also pushes unity. On top of journalism, we also partake in filming, media, and agriculture. They not only prioritize the youth but also encourage adults to get involved. While being here they let you explore your interest, educate you, and give you a safe space.

Allowing the youth to explore

I have been in the program for about two months now and since then I have been allowed to feed my interest. I started as a journalist and got to write about what was going on currently and things I liked. When doing this people like Ebonee encouraged me to be creative and find new ways to convey a message.

Another time when I was allowed to explore is around when I first joined. After some time of only writing articles, I noticed that other youth were using filming and photography equipment. I had been interested in photography since I was younger so I approached DiMarkco Chandler about participating in that program. On top of being able to take photos, he also let me film, just to get practice on both ends. He has taken me and others to events to document them. We have even documented what goes on in our own workspace.

Education and Awareness

Obviously, the program promotes school education but they also believe you should be educated on your space and community. While teaching us about our freedoms they also make sure to get us directly involved. With mid-term elections, we got to get a first-hand view of the process. We filmed people who were at the pre-voting polls and got to meet a lot of the community. We held conversations with these people and were able to practice our interviewing skills. They expressed their opinions on the election and the change they want to see in the community. This was a great opportunity to be engaged in the community ourselves.

Chandler has sat down and talked with the whole group about freedom and how it comes with responsibility. He also taught us it is important to be educated on things happening in North Lawndale, as this is where the newspaper is published. He pushes the youth the be educated on important topics to be able to insert themselves into important conversations. The youth were put in charge of a Forum where a bunch of public figures was questioned on topics such as: “The forum covered the topics of Education, Mental Health, Housing, Economics/ Entrepreneurship, and the lack of food resources.”

Courtesy of The News School

A safe space for the youth

On top of education and allowing us to explore a lot of us come here to get away from the outside world. Other than just general stress a lot of us crave a different environment. I personally came here because I like to be around people doing better than me. This gives me the opportunity to naturally grow and learn.

Other than my growth, I got a chance to see how others were affected. The social media group has meetings where they sit and circle and just check in, this gave everyone including me more incite.

One of the first times Chandler let me film on my own, for the most part, was during one of those meetings. I wasn’t sure what to expect. As the conversation started and more perspectives were given, I came to realize, we youth come to this program for more than the money. When we come here we feel comfortable and liberated to be our fun and free selves.

A great experience

Prior to joining this program, I was already interested in the things being taught here. Being able to experience it firsthand is very exciting. There are a lot of intellectual people here and I feel privileged to be able to learn from them. They do this while paying us to prosper and grow — truly empowering the youth. Not only are we privileged but they are setting us up to put ourselves in better positions. In the climate, the world is in currently, most youth don’t get the opportunity.

The way I joined this program was very sudden and I didn’t know what to expect. As time has gone on I’m glad I’ve had the experience. I’ve met new people, learned new things, and picked up new skills. As a result, I’ve made new memories and have articles on google! The News School has given me the opportunity to say things about myself that other people can’t.

By Cynthia Thomas

Chicago Leader: Influential Officials Respond to West-Side Youth

The Guardian Liberty Voice: Forum Event Hosted by The News School

Top and Featured Image courtesy of The News School

Inset Image courtesy of The News School

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