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What’s So Great about Football?

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

People take off their clothes and paint their bodies in the freezing cold just to show their loyalty to their team. This is football. I can’t believe how many people are so loyal to their teams. I love football and I play football but I would not do all of that. It seems to me that football is our country’s most popular sport, based on how many people talk about it.

I interviewed students and teachers at Robeson High School about their views on football.

Amber M. Stoker is a 24-year-old City Year staffer at Robeson. She loves football because of the physical contact and her favorite team is the Chicago Bears. She has never been to an NFL game but she’s been to high school games. Even though she likes the sport, she knows that injuries are a serious problem. She knew someone who had a football scholarship to college but it was messed up because of an injury.

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It’s Time to Focus on Bullying

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

Bullying. Why is it treated as a tragedy only when it results in death? Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But it seems like that’s what it takes for people to open their eyes to the consequences of bullying. We should stay on top of this issue even when it doesn’t result in suicide. We shouldn’t let it fade away and only come back when someone commits suicide – saying “now it’s a big issue.” Wrong! It’s a big issue when the kid is feeling alone. it’s a big issue when the kid fears coming to school because of bullying and it is a big issue when the thought of suicide crosses a child’s mind.

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Meet the Real Robeson High School

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

How is it really at Robeson High School in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side? A lot of people misjudge Robeson because of what they see on the news. Many people might think all Robeson students don’t know anything and fight every day. But what they don’t know is that many kids in Robeson have great talents and are very smart. I currently attend Robeson and it’s very different than what people say. I interviewed some Robeson students to give a fuller picture of the student body, their views on the school, and the violence that is an issue in Englewood.

Shanika Chavis is a freshman who works after school and likes to “goof off with friends.” She said there are not too many gangs at Robeson. She wants to be a teacher because she likes to help people. She said the school “is interesting because you learn different things and you can use them later on in life.” She thinks gangbanging is “stupid and makes no sense.” There are “wild students” at Robeson but added that “if they were more focused on their work they could be better students.” She thinks the school could change for the better if people were “more focused on the kids instead of their behavior.”

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Frack Attack in Illinois

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Anti-fracking activists in Boulder, Colo., during a recent protest. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

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 the McCormick Foundation:

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program, which is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation. – See more at: https://wethepeoplemedia.org/#sthash.4O2DVbp7.dpuf

The Illinois legislature passed a bill the last week of May that would regulate fracking, the controversial practice for getting natural gas and oil by injecting water and chemicals into shale formations. The bill is being called the strictest package of fracking regulations in the nation. But many people disagree with it. That’s because they think there should be a moratorium or ban on fracking. The bill will become law if Gov. Pat Quinn signs it. Right now there is no fracking in Illinois. But if the bill passes, fracking is expected to start. The bill does have some safeguards but critics say that fracking can never be safe.

Industry, of course, is all for the fracking in Illinois. They say it will bring jobs and needed energy. But concerned activists like Annette McMichael and Beverly Walter disagree with the idea of fracking because they are worried it will cause serious pollution of our drinking water and air. They are backing a proposed bill that would put a moratorium on fracking, which would mean no fracking for the next two years, while more studies are done. That bill was introduced in the state General Assembly by state Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago).

McMichael is a member of Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE). She has had personal encounters with industry representatives near her home.

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The Altgeld Gardens Farmers Market: A Personal Perspective

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Step through this door to visit Altgeld Gardens’ new farmers market. Photo by Manquaze Allen.

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

Marguerite Jacobs is the founder of Altgeld Gardens’ new farmers market located at 939 East 130th Place. Mrs. Jacobs, who happens to be my mother, gets her fresh produce and supplies from Pembroke, Illinois. Vegetables, peanuts and fruit are sold at the market for a low price. The food is freshly grown, so there are no chemicals in her vegetables and fruit. Here are a few items that Mrs. Jacobs sells: potatoes, onions, peppers, oranges, carrots and much more.

“Altgeld is a food dessert community. I feel that the younger kids are exposed to so much fat foods and not enough healthy products. The farmers market will give the kids good choices to eat,” said Mrs. Jacobs. She spent much of the time preparing to open the market at Altgeld in June of 2012. Now she is selling her produce and in 10 months her goal is to start selling meat.

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Chicago’s Nuclear History

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Protestors gather on the 70th anniversary of the first controlled nuclear reaction near the site where it occurred on the University of Chicago campus on Dec. 2, 2012. Photo by Tyreshia Black.

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

The abstract sculpture by Henry Moore on the University of Chicago campus looks like a soldier’s helmet or maybe a mushroom cloud or a skull. It was created to mark the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, which was done at the university on Dec. 2, 1942. Exactly 70 years later, on Dec. 2, 2012, many people came out to pay their respects at a conference at the University of Chicago.

But there certainly were not as many people as should have come, given what nuclear reactions have meant for our society. Many people were not even aware of the event or the history behind it. I personally never knew of the historical event until I attended the commemoration at the university. Luckily, I had a chance to meet several activists who gave me insight on what is going on and their concerns about nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

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Pilsen Gets Environmental Justice

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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 the McCormick Foundation:

Dvorak Park is a very grassy, wide expanse of trees and benches, a playground for young children with an outdoor pool located in the Pilsen neighborhood, which is home to many Mexican immigrants. Rising above the park is the tall, light-colored brick smokestack of the Fisk coal power plant. Next to the smokestack is the red brick building where coal was burned to produce electricity for 109 years.
Since 1903, the plant has provided power for Chicago. And for many years, it was the number one source of pollution in the city, according to reports in the Chicago Tribune.
Jerry Mead-Lucero is a founding member and organizer of the group Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reformation Organization (PERRO). We met with Mead-Lucero in August 2012 on the day after the Fisk power plant had been closed and the Crawford coal-burning power plant a few miles away in the Little Village neighborhood was scheduled to close the next week.
There have been 55 premature deaths each year linked to the power plant, along with hundreds of asthma attacks and people hospitalized because of pollution from the plant, according to a study by a scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2001. Respiratory issues are frequently caused by coal, fly ash, soot, mercury, lead (which is a neurotoxin) and other particles emitted from the coal plant, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Read more »

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Preserving History and Ecology

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Eco Youth Reporters Jasmine Hunt and David Cal interview a passerby at Harry Palmisano Park. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

 

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 the McCormick Foundation:

The Bridgeport and Pilsen neighborhoods on Chicago’s Near South Side are heavily industrial, with factories, highways, railroad tracks and warehouses. The area used to be famous for the stockyards and slaughterhouses depicted in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Bubbly Creek, which runs through the area, got its name from the decomposing bodies of animals from the slaughterhouses.
But in the middle of all this industry there are pockets of nature where people enjoy the outdoors.
On Halsted Street in the Bridgeport neighborhood – home of Mayors Richard M. and his father Richard J. Daley – Henry C. Palmisano Nature Park is an oasis created on a former limestone quarry and landfill. To the north you can see the smokestack of the Fisk coal-burning power plant, which closed down this year. When you enter the park from Halsted, you see limestone boulders where fossils are located. There are also native plants with deep roots that hold large amounts of water in the soil. During rain storms the native plants hold the water and prevent it from flooding or contaminating other areas. A drain pipe sends storm water into a wetland in the park, where the plants clean the water as it filters through. Metal stairs align parts of the park near a pond created by part of the quarry with steep walls. Rabbits and monarchs inhabit the park. Attention-grabbing graffiti on a park wall proclaims “I Love you! Don’t you ever question that” with a big painted heart. Read more »

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Sit In Against School Closings

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UYIJP participant Tyreshia Black interviews Chicago teacher Cynthia Smith at a Nov. 2 sit in against school closings. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

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

Teachers, students and many concerned local residents gathered at a rally at City Hall in front of the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Nov. 2 yelling out chants like, “We’re fired up, can’t take it no more” and “Na na na na, hey hey hey, stop closing schools.”
Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey, who I interviewed, proclaimed that he was putting those who are causing problems “on notice.” Sharkey meant that those who are making the choice to close schools and lay off teachers and – in his view – deny children the best education will have to face him and many others.
There has been much controversy and protest around Chicago public schools since the Chicago Board of Education, the Mayor’s office and other officials reportedly plan to close about 100 more Chicago public schools that are labeled as under-performing or under-enrolled. Already, many schools have been closed. The Board of Education was supposed to release its list of schools to close on Dec. 1, although the new schools CEO Barbara Bennett-Byrd successfully asked the state legislature for a few more months to make the decision. Meanwhile, parents, teachers and students at the protest said that no public schools should be closed at all. Read more »

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Does TV Affect Children’s Behavior?

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Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Luke O’Toole Elementary School in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

Television does affect children’s behavior because children are influenced by what’s around them. When I turn on my television, I see violence, people doing things that they shouldn’t be doing and hear profanity.

According to the University of Maine, violence in the media, on television programming, video games and movies is a growing concern.

In the movies and videos that some kids have access to, they see a lot of bad people doing bad things and hear a lot of profanity. An example of this would be in some movies and/or videos you can see rappers with money who are treating women badly. When a child sees this, they think that type of behavior is OK. They think it’s OK to talk the way they do and act the way they do. A lot of time, they act out the things they see in school, and that affects other kids. It’s not OK to use profanity in school and try to fight other students. Children should not watch things like this. There are movies for adults and there are certain movies for children.

As for television programming, some things are age appropriate and other things aren’t. Kids still have access to these programs either way so the TV should be OK for everyone to watch. Statistics in a University of Maine report indicate that “The typical American child will be exposed to 12,000 violent acts on television a year.”

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