Growing Up

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Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program.

My name is Paris L. Haynes. I was born July 19, 1990 at Michael Reese Hospital. My parents are Takila Lawson and Dwayne Haynes. I graduated from Wells Prep grammar school. I have lived in the Wells all of my life. Now, I’m 15 and I’m in the tenth grade. I attend Dunbar Vocational Career Academy. When I was about two or three years old, my father’s mother and father both passed in a hour fire. Now that I’m a little older, it really hit me because I didn’t get a chance to know them. From the time I was a baby up until I was eight or nine years old, my family lived on the rock block (37th Place) in the Wells. We moved from there to Vincennes and then to 38th and Rhodes. Now we live in the Ida B. Wells extensions.

Growing up in the Wells is fun and scary. When I was younger I didn’t really understand that, but now that I’m older, I realize that it’s a life and death struggle here. I have been running from bullets for years. Most of the time when I come outside I don’t feel safe because of all the shooting that has happened here. People come through here and shoot their guns and they don’t care who they hit. I remember once when I was in the middle of a shootout. I was about 14 when this occurred. I was standing on the basketball court and a man came running toward the court shooting at someone in a truck. A bullet hit the pole that I was standing next to. I ran into the field house. At my young age, I have already seen people dead or shot with my own eyes.

I also had loads of fun growing up in the Wells. It’s not all bad. There are some good things. I love when we have picnics. People come together at events like these and generally enjoy themselves. Now that they are demolishing the Wells, it makes me angry and happy. Happy because I know that what they build should make this a better place, and angry because I’m going to miss all my friends and all the fun we used to have here. I guess that’s just a part of growing up.

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