The OpEd Project launched year two of the McCormick Foundation-funded YOUTH NARRATING OUR WORLD program at the Erie Neighborhood House in Chicago on Saturday, October 25. Students from five Chicago Public High Schools (Marie Sklodowska Curie Metro High School, Robert Lindblom Math & Science Academy , Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy , Nicholas Senn High School , and Kenwood Academy High School) convened to discuss credibility and expertise, the power of knowledge and their duty to share what they know with their communities and the world. Students hope to advance their opinions on topics ranging from the images of girls and women in the media, to healthy eating options for the middle class, to relationships between authorities and the communities they protect.
Of the 30 student semi-finalisists who joined OpEd Project leaders Michele Weldon, Deborah Douglas and Teresa Puente for the first convening, 20 will be selected as finalists to continue with the full scope of the YNOW Program. These 20 students will receive three months of one-on-one mentoring from expert journalist facilitators, will work on multiple op-eds and other pieces of thought leadership, and will attend two additional convenings on December 13 and January 24.
First Impressions from YNOW Semi-Finalist, Shannon Thomas (Gwendolyn Brooks)
My time with the YNOW program is something that will never leave my memory. I didn’t know what to expect, but was instantly engaged by the concepts and goals of the program. The seminar gave me such useful tools and information for helping me not only be the best writer I can be, but also understand the power that my voice holds. Despite my age and experience, it’s not too early to make an impact on my community, not to mention the WORLD! The leaders were great to work with, and were actually so excited to hear my ideas and opinions. I also met a diverse group of young individuals, all passionate and creative. I’ve never witnessed such a wide variety of ideas come together — it was amazing. I felt so privileged to be a part of it. We all came from different backgrounds and experiences, which made our conversations that much richer and meaningful. Some of them were downright hilarious. All in all, this was a great experience for me, and can not wait to go back. I plan to use the skills I developed at the seminar further my writing career and, hopefully, impress some colleges!