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LEGO History

by Ivan Abarca 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with the Chicago branch of Spark. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

Albert and Marianne, a couple from Chicago, spend about $80 a year on LEGOs a couple times a year and keep what they build on a shelf. But that’s nothing compared to Albert’s cousin, who has a whole LEGO city in his basement. I met Albert, 28, and Marianne, 30, at the LEGO Store in downtown Chicago. They have only been building LEGOs for about a year, but they love them.

The Lego Store was filled with people like Albert and Marianne when I visited it in October. Alison, a 23-year-old employee there who is fromUtah, told me that Lego’s were famous the world over and had been around since 1932. They were invented by a man named Ole Kirk Christiansen. That made me wonder: What would give someone the idea to invent LEGOs?

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A LEGO Store Adventure

by Dimitry Perez 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with the Chicago branch of Spark. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

On Oct. 15, 2014, in an interview at the LEGO store, located in downtown Chicago at the Water Tower building, Josh the supervisor shared great information about the Skyline Lego display in the storefront window. Josh is 24 years old from out of town who attends school here in Chicago. He loves building LEGOs and he has been building LEGOs for 19 years. Josh said that the store has a team of master builders who build the displays on site. Josh likes building his own LEGO creations and does not have a favorite LEGO set. Josh is working right now on a Tiki Bar creation.

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A Perfect Community

by Shawanakee Jackson 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

When I think of the perfect community, the first thing that comes to mind is peace. In my perfect community, there would peace among every brother and sister; not just African Americans but every culture. We would be blind to color, because color would not matter in my community. It would be equal opportunity and the word minority wouldn’t exist. We would unify each other in every aspect. No brother or sister would stumble alone.

African history would be taught in our schools, not just European history. Our children will learn their roots from an early age. It has taken me 21 years to learn my roots and who I am really. In elementary school, my teachers didn’t teach me about Egypt. I was taught European, German, French and Korean history. I didn’t learn about El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz until I was in eighth grade; and as far as I can remember, most teachers didn’t teach about Malcolm X because of his past years in prison. Growing up, I have only learned of Dr. King and Rosa Parks; respect is all due to them, but they are not the only Black leaders.

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Christmas Toy Drive

by Treanna Frencha 

Children pose with Santa Claus at the Christmas Toy Drive sponsored by Social Sound Production & Entertainment Social Movement. Photo by Treanna Frencha.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

The first annual Christmas Toy Drive at Hamilton Park, located at 513 West 72nd Street, was held by Social Sound Production & Entertainment Social Movement. The toy drive was an overall success! There were refreshments (cupcakes, chips and juice boxes) for the children to enjoy after they waited to take a picture with Santa and receive their gift.

The kids and their parents had to make a line outside, and then were sent in five at a time to sign a form and sign-in sheet so they can be reached after the event. This is way Social Sound Production & Entertainment Social Movement can build a relationship with the families they helped. Once they filled out the forms, the children were sent to different tables, depending on their age, where they received a gift. After getting their gift, it was time to take a picture with Santa and other family members.

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How to Give Back To Your Community

by Treanna Frencha 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

People can give back to their community by seeing what is needed in that particular place. They can find a way to help fulfill the need of that particular community by getting personally involved. Say, for instance, the community needs a new basketball court; the people living there could hold a fundraiser selling items they know others will buy. It doesn’t have to necessarily be junk food (chips and Candy), but they can sell healthier alternatives (vegetables, fruits and nuts).  They can even sell home made items (thank you cards, jewelry or clothes) at a reasonable price. These are things people like and will purchase, thereby raising the money for the court.

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Am I Prepared for College?

by Tatiana Minter 

Students at Paul Robeson High School. Photo by Tatiana Minters.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Paul Robeson High School. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

“I don’t like this school, Robeson is boring, class is boring, and teachers are boring, they are teaching baby work and stuff that is not on our level or getting us ready for college.” said Jameesha Shields, 17, a senior who has been at Paul Robeson since her freshman year.

My name is Tatiana Minter and I’m a senior at Paul Robeson High School. Paul Robeson High School is a 4-year school located in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. It mainly is fully of African American students and a mix of African American and white teachers. Seems like every time I say ‘Paul Robeson,’ the first thing that comes out of someone’s mouth is “Why you go to that school?” or “It be crackin’, don’t it?” I know Robeson has a bad reputation with many people who don’t even attend the school but since I do, I thought it would be a good idea to tell my story and those of my classmates.

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Do Athletes Have Special Privileges?

by Whitney Burkes 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Paul Robeson High School. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

When a student gets in trouble at Paul Robeson High School, they are immediately sent to the Dean of Students, Ms. Maxwell. That is, unless you’re an athlete, in which case you will be sent to the head coach of your sport.

I can certainly understand how it appears that student-athletes get special treatment. However, the average fan or student doesn’t get to see the whole picture. All student-athletes are accountable for their behaviors/actions just like everyone else. The process is the same (discussion with the Dean) for everyone BUT for athletes, their coaches are notified of their behavior and they may no longer be a Robeson Raider. Every athlete that takes the field is expected to show high character, respect and leadership on the field of competition. The coaches expect the student-athletes to illustrate the same principles in class and throughout the hallways. When the expectation is not met, the student-athlete has to face the consequences from both Ms. Maxwell and their coach.

Some students at Paul Robeson High School feel that this is unfair.

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Interview with an International Columnist

by Cornelius Jordan 

Editor’s Note: The video above was filmed by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by theMcCormick Foundation: – See more at: http://wethepeoplemedia.org/#sthash.vMa3tI1H.dpuf

Editor’s Note: The video above was filmed by a student in our advanced J-201 level of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program. The UYIJP is generously funded by theMcCormick Foundation:

Last year, I had the privilege of interviewing Avirama Golan, a columnist for the Haaretz, one of the most important Israeli newspapers. Ms. Golan talked about the time she saw then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama visit an Israeli town that was under attack from rockets. Even back then, she was very impressed with Obama and now he is our president. Click above to see more of our interview.

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ECO Youth Training Session

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by theMcCormick Foundation: – See more at: http://wethepeoplemedia.org/#sthash.fs2zRza6.dpuf
Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by theMcCormick Foundation: – See more at: http://wethepeoplemedia.org/#sthash.fs2zRza6.dpuf

Editor’s Note: The video above was filmed by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by theMcCormick Foundation:

This summer, the Eco Youth reporters really built up our writing and reporting skills as we learned about the issues with managing our environment. Click above to peek in on one of our meetings from this July to learn how we did it!

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What Can Drive a Person to Murder?

by Tatiana Minter 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Paul Robeson High School in the Englewood neighborhood. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

Have you ever wondered what causes someone to act on violent impulses or commit a murder?

Amber Johnson, 18, a Paul Robeson student, responded, “Stress, no money, no job, childhood experiences, etc.” People are often confronted with feelings of disappointment, frustration and anger as they interact with government officials, co-workers, family and friends. Sometimes mistakes are made and the victim of a murder turns out to not be the intended target of the one who committed it. In my opinion, this urge to kill comes from built-up anger inside of that person which they have failed to release. It’s so powerful because people hold things inside of them forever and never talk about their problems. Some people are not able to control their anger by doing stuff they enjoy or talking to someone they trust to relieve stress.

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