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Welcome to the third issue of Vision 411, a magazine produced by teens in the Visionaries program at Erie Neighborhood House. This fall we chose the theme of ‘teen expression,’ and dove into covering the wide variety of forms it can take. We also added a new multimedia component to our magazine. Each article has a corresponding video so you can experience the poetry and the music for yourself, see more art, examine the tattoos, and hear more from the interviewees. We believe in the power of print but also the power of multimedia, and we hope you enjoy the combination. After each article you will see a QR code that will lead you to the corresponding video. To view them all you need is a smart phone and a scanning app. Alternatively, to access the YouTube playlist visit or find it at Thank you for readingVision 411 .

Many thanks to the following organizations without whom this issue would not have been possible: After School Matters Comcast Erie Neighborhood House Fulline Printing 2

Vision 411/ Fall 2012

Cover Art by Angelo Blaney

Page: 4 Words:

Freedom of Expression -Andrea Aguilera and Alejandra Lemus

Locked Within -Micheal Martinez

8 Art:

Pretty Pictures

-Roxana Osorio

10 Mind:

The Kids Are Alright

12 Music:

The Heart’s Sheet Music

-Asael Reyes

-Julio Rojas

14 Movement: SKATExpression -Brenda Reyes

16 Body:

What the F@#% Is On Your Arm?

-Brenda Benitez, Angelo Blaney and Rayan Merida-Corado

Tattoo Virgin -Micheal Martinez ONLINE:


Read the Digital Version of Vision 411

Find Us On Facebook

ONLINE: Visit the Multimedia Playlist



magine sleeping on a two-inch mattress, no softer than a rock with no sheets and no pillow, surrounded by three concrete walls and barred inside like a criminal. You wake up at night, with an urgent need to use the bathroom. Luckily, the toilet is only a few feet away from you. You sit down, only to feel the security guard’s glare as you do your business. You can’t sleep; insomnia haunts you. A million thoughts cross your mind, yet nothing matters. You are a teen locked up in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. No one seems


Vision 411/ Fall 2012

Freedom of Story by Andrea Aguilera

to understand, no one wants to listen. Your dreams are what keep you alive. Jane Addams and other social reformers began the juvenile detention court system in 1899. Their idea was that the court would determine “the needs of the child and society, rather than adjudication criminal conduct,” and provide education to juveniles in detention. The idea was to meet the needs of teens rather than treat them like adult criminals. In today’s system, though, things look different. “I think that a lot of people would argue, including myself, that the court system we have for kids is

really just a miniature version of the adult court system and that it really isn’t in line with what Jane Addams and other social reformers imagined when they created the juvenile court [system],” said Amanda Klonsky, associate director of the Free Write Jail Arts program at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. According to the US Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, as of 2010 there are about 70,000 kids in juvenile detention centers around the country. Most of them range from ages 12-18, and the majority are 16. The Cook County

Expression and Alejandra Lemus

website states that there are under 300 students in the detention center here in Chicago and, according to Klonsky, about 50 of them are girls. Teens in the detention center have regular public school and classes at the Nancy B. Jefferson Alternative School, located on the second floor of the center. As part of their schooling they are provided with classes from the Free Write Jail Arts and Literacy Program. Free Write Jail Arts was founded in the year of 2004 with the goal of increasing literacy, written self-expression, and appreciation of the performing, visual and literary

Photos by Richard Ross, Juvenile-In-Justice © 2012

arts. According to their mission statement, the program seeks to “reduce recidivism and help our students find meaningful pathways to selfexpression and to further education.” The students in Klonsky’s poetry class meet 3-4 hours per week, during which they learn to develop writing skills and work mostly with poetry. Students are encouraged to write on their life experiences as well as their emotions. “The students are wonderful, and eager to learn and excited to have an opportunity to participate in something that they are interested in and that speaks to their own creativ-

ity and their own excitement about poetry, about hip-hop, about art work,” states Klonsky. The teens from the CCJDC are not the only ones who express themselves through poetry. On a Thursday night in a church library in Rodger’s Park, one by one the students from Circles and Ciphers stand up to read poems that express their pain and thoughts. Everyone listens carefully, there’s no way to not listen. Their words flow rhythmically and easily. As the poet sits back down, they receive creative feedback. “I just feel that when I say these things, people Vision 411/ Fall 2012

5 5

EXPRESSION: WORDS just give me their feedback [and] that shows me-love to me,” says Jonathan a member for about 3 months. Circles and Ciphers is an initiative of Project NIA, and was formed as a leadership development program for young men who are prison, court, and gang involved. This program uses methods like poetry and hip-hop music to aid

participants in organizing their thoughts and expressing themselves in a different way. The Circle and Ciphers group members often find that their expressions have changed thanks to this program. “I expressed my self probably different before I joined Circles and Ciphers, probably in a more negative way. Circles and Ciphers

I AM TRYING By Kenneth L.

I try not to go insane with Stuck in this world Emotional pain g Trying to stay stron is t But this governmen d Stuck on stupi And that’s wrong will get me Playing with them nt to be Someplace I don’t wa e?” m I ask God “Why lty rv to dese e this crue I didn’t do anything is th n’t wo y I think to myself, wh e alone ? m ve lea t en m Govern e th day when I can hardly wait til om on the phone I get to talk to my m tally free Trying to stay men about someone But always worried Trying to fight me e, I will keep on When they set me fre e Having god with m


Vision 411/ Fall 2012

gave me a little more alternative to think about,” says Tim, a member since June, 2012. Circles and Ciphers has also played a big role in the life of teens who join the group. “There’s two Ethans and both of them inspired me into writing, and doing all of this. That’s how I express all my stuff…” adds Jonathan. Whether you’re locked

up, on the street with friends, or in a church basement you can always find a way to express yourself. The youth from Free Write, and Circles and Ciphers have learned the power of expression through poetry and music. The pieces that they produce are not only for themselves to hear, but also for others to learn and gain strength from.

ONLINE: Hear the Circles and Ciphers poets See more photos from Richard Ross’s Juvenile-In-Justice Project

Locked within By: Michael Martinez


h e r e you go hope you have fun, with your new home,� he smiles as if he is feeding on my sadness. As I lay in my new bed the cold bed frame makes chills go up my spine. My newly implanted ankle weight squeezes around my leg in this pitch-black room. The darkness sucks me in as it surrounds me like the warm hug my mom used to give me every night. I sense that I could see my breath and feel my lips slowly start to turn a purple color. Just like the new-bloomed flower fades away in the winter, slow-

ly losing it petals and slipping into the darkness, I sit in this place, fading everyday as the clock ticks away, as a fragment of time and slow down remembering all the times that I spent with my family, the jester jokes we will laugh about the universe in our hands, the vague time I had until they took me away. On the verge of losing my insanity every time the clock ticks. Nothing to do, nobody to see, no one that cares for me, the only thing I can feel is emptiness just like my soul when I was placed here. As I keep thinking of the cruel person that put me in this torture and every time I even think about this person I want to grab him by the neck and shake it until I see the whiteness of his eye rolling back into the

deepest part of his head. I stare at this man for hours on end; I eat with him every time I do, and every time when I finish washing my face. Feeding off the anger that makes me want to hurt him and see him bleed do I ever think how this all started? The unresisting feeling of the rush as I jumped off the counter and pulling the machine with the riches, robbing it like taking candy from a baby. I smile on how much that I found then as I open the door to reality I crashed into the muscular rock with the white shiny star ready to take me away. The rush I had fades back to the deepest part of my body the fear hits me like a baseball bat to the ball. My motor skills kicks in like a rush. I start sprinting. As cold air hits my

face as guilt seeping through my eyes and onto my cheeks, the sound of sirens surrounds me like a cold straight jacket. Out of breath I try and hide behind the old the dark blue rusty dumpster with the nasty rotten food smell. The sirens slowly fade away as I take a deep breath. I get up and leave to find out that there are police waiting for me just like the chauffeur they lead me into the car and put me down inside. The place is like a parasite sucking the life out of me and just leaving the outer layer of what is left of me. Thinking my life is done for as I still sit in the pitch darkness starring at the wall that is only a foot away from my face. Hope you like your 5 years of juvy is all I hear like a broken record.

Vision 411/ Fall 2012



“Art is… an outlet for all of your creativity and emotions” -Leon Yonan


here are many different methods to put your emotions, or even things from your wildest dreams, out into the world. Some teens express themselves through music, poetry, body modifications, or art. For the artistic route, there are ways like photography, ceramics, or multi-media. Penelope Martinez, a junior at Lane Tech, prefers to draw as her way of expressing herself. 8

Vision 411/ Fall 2012

“I think for my art to actually be worth something, and for me to actually try on it, it’s because I’m feeling happy or sad or stressed or tired and I’ll just draw whatever I feel,” Martinez says. Martinez started of learning art in 3rd grade and resumed taking art classes in 6th and 7th grade. She says that the first thing she learned to draw were eyes and still loves drawing them to this day. Leon Yonan and Vanessa


By Roxana Osorio

e Art by Penelop

Pretty Pictures

Mendez, also juniors at Lane Tech, have other preferences when it comes to making art. Yonan likes using digital media, like Photoshop and Illustrator. He feels like these programs are easier to use and you have more control over what you do. For example, if you make a mistake in one of these programs, it’ll be easier to fix than if you messed up on a watercolor or acrylic painting. “I just like to make whatever

images are in my head, or anything that I think is pretty. I don’t really put much thought into it. I just [make] whatever comes to my mind,” Yonan says. Mendez, however, likes having a brush and paint at hand. About a year ago, she made a piece with different colors using acrylic paints. Each color, and the amount in the piece, stood for her emotions. For example, a little bit of yellow would be happiness and a lot for red would be love and anger.

“Art truly is a way to express yourself because it goes into how you feel and you put it into your art so people can understand, like if you’re mad, you put more depth into your art,” Mendez says. Whatever the case, Martinez has some advice for any teen in search of an expressive outlet. “In general, you should always have a way to express yourself in a healthy manner… Other people do it through unhealthy manners and it’s better really to find something

[else]. Even if you’re not good at it, just do it. If it helps and if it works, just do it.”

ONLINE: Hear more from the artists

y a w a s i y l u r t t r A f l e s r u o y s s e r p x e o t o t n i s e o g t i e s u a c e b how you feel. z e d n e M a s s e n a V Art by Leon Yonan

Vision 411/ Fall 2012



The Kids Are Alright _____________


Story and Art by Asael Reyes

veryone finds themselves at one point trying to unravel the mind of a teenager - whether it is a parent trying to understand their child, a psychologist trying to help a youth, or a teen trying to find reasoning for their actions. During adolescense, a child grows to understand the meaning of holding responsibility and being mature, but before that one must first go through their own journey to find their truth and their identity. It sounds clichéd but it’s true, these are the years when a person finds their place in the world. First, though, one needs to experience the possibilities of what their identities can be. This is where many parents find themselves struggling to understand their child’s mind, because teenagers may begin to rebel, act out in school or at home, and experiment with different identities. Parents, don’t panic. Believe it or not, it is healthy for a teenager to undergo these phases. With a supporting home and the dedication of the parents, a teenager can find their way out of the harmful phases (such as drugs). When I asked Sabina Ocampo if it’s clear to her family that she expresses herself she said, “No, no. They think that I’m a tender kind of kid. They don’t know that I’m outgoing, they think I’m shy.” When I asked her if she was expressive herself she replied, “No, I’m just normal.” I asked another teen, Christian Vasquez, if he was very open with his form of expression, “Yes, because 10

Vision 411/ Fall 2012

I am a very outgoing person,” he replied. “Other people know that I express myself very outwardly.” I asked him if his family supported his way of expression. “Yeah, it’s awesome to do it for myself but when other people see it and they also acknowledge the hard work that I put into it, I feel like it gives me a

feeling of gratitude,” he said. “A family’s dynamic has a lot to do with how [a teen goes] about their outlet.” Teenagers, whether they may know it or not, set up a goal for who they want to become. This includes their future occupations and such, but it isn’t the big picture. Teenagers decide whether they want to be artistic and imaginative or if they wish to be more conventional and “normal.” I asked three teenagers to define normal. “You are [someone] without having an imagination, without being outgoing, without being loud,” said Sabina Ocampo. Christian Vasquez, on the other hand, thinks that, “normal is subjective. It’s what you think is normal.” For Mariana Patino, normal is, “someone who goes about their own business.” However, when I asked them “who would be normal?” their answers changed. “You wouldn’t really know who was normal because everybody is different,” said Sabina. “There is no normal,” said Christian. “I guess no one is really normal,” said Mariana. As you can see, they pretty much all contradicted themselves. This is a great example of the definition of

adolescence: a paradox – a series of contradictions. It’s a real jungle inside the mind of a teenager. Running through their body are hormones that dramaticize the stress, joy, anxiety, depression, bliss, loneliness, arousement and curiosity they experience every day, and teenagers must figure out ways to cope. Most times teenagers will choose the wrong way to handle certain situations, but that’s okay. Adolescence is the time to learn, and the best way to do that is by making mistakes. Teenagers, don’t worry too much about the world. This is your time to make mistakes and learn so you may figure out who you are and become a responsible adult in the future. Then you will have your kids to worry about. Parents, remember your teenager is just growing up, and it is completely natural to go through certain phases, act out, and make mistakes. But it is also important that you try to guide them in the right way, share your knowledge with them, and let them know you are there for them and they are not alone. After all, it’s natural, it’s healthy, and the kids are alright.

ONLINE: Hear more from the teens

Vision 411/ Fall 2012



the heart’s Story, Photo and Art by Julio Rojas

Music is a universal language that we all speak, expressing our thoughts and ideas through the songs we listen to. We can use music to comfort us when there is no one around; to put words to our anger when we cannot say it ourselves, to let people know how great life is, or just to tell a simple story about someone we think is great. One major group in our society that uses this language as a form of expression is us, the youth. For some youth in particular, music can be the reason why they act, talk or dress a certain way, making up an important part of their life and their identity.


ne person that has involved music into a majorpart of their life and plans on pursuing it as a career is Alexander Osecki. He started at a young age playing piano when his parents surprised him by buying him a small keyboard. This is how Alex expresses himself, through the hard white keys of a keyboard. To Alex, music is, “...nothing but just pure self expression, where you put everything that you are feeling into what you’re doing.” Alex is still young and has a long way to go if he plans to follow a musical career. His goal is to attend Columbia College right here in Chicago, where he plans to double major in musical and theater arts, and minor in visual arts. After graduation he hope to work at Steppen Wolf Theater where hopefullyhe will earn enough money to be able to move to Hollywood and find a record deal to launch his professional career.


Vision 411/ Fall 2012

“Although people shoot for the stars, the chances of somebody getting there are not that high. But I feel that if I work it hard enough I can” –Alex Osecki


sheet music J

avier is a 17-year-old musician, starting out small as a member in a high school band called, “O’Hare In The Morning”. His music talent spreads over a variety of instruments like guitar, bass, clarinet, drums and piano. In his view, music is, “…a way of expressing how a person feels. How they have something inside of them that they aren’t usually as confident, or something like they say overall, and music is a way of expressing it. So something that you feel, something that you think, something that you want to say, or something that you have said, or something that you really mean…” Although currently still in high school, Javier hopes on making it big.

“Hear my song, people won’t you listen now? Sing along,
 you don’t know what you’re missing now. 
Any little song that you know,
everything that’s small has to grow, and it has to grow” - Led Zepplin

ONLINE: Hear more from Alex

Vision 411/ Fall 2012

Vision 411/ Fall 2012





Story and Photos by Brenda Reyes

he wind ripping against the skin, as thoughts ruffle in and out of the brain. There it is, that perfect spot, even got the perfect speed. That one second on the board as the feet shift with precise footwork, the adrenaline rushing through the heart. BAM! Nailed it! That perfect trick. After all that practicing, the feeling of success and happiness settles in. Try it again, checked and perfected. So wait, what was the problem?

To certain people skating is not so important, but for some it’s just the beginning to a huge story. There are some skaters that are making a living off of skating, making themselves known all around. Ryan Sheckler, Tony Hawk, or Chaz Ortiz, who were signed by various skating brands, are the ones who made it to the top. But for every one of them there are thousands 14

Vision 411/ Fall 2012

more who skate for the love of the skating and who use it as their form of expression. Walking down the hall is an energetic teenager, with long dreads, smiling in his UAC crew neck with his skateboard in hand. Ausar Kyles, a sophomore at Lincoln Park high school is as fully attached to skateboarding as one is to their first love. To him it is more than something to take up time, but a form of expression. Ausar would be lost without skating; it’s what he does and what he wants to continue doing. He started out young when his friends introduced skateing to him, asking him to try it out. Soon enough that sport would become a great part of his life. “If it’s warm outside I go ahead and skate all day, especially in the summer. When it’s cold and there’s snow I simply go to my garage and skate,” says Ausar. During freshman year he started his own brand called UAC. UAC got many people’s attention, and soon everyone around Lincoln Park High School knew what it was. Now a lot of people are buying his sweaters and the decks he designs.


Short blonde hair, huge smile with dimples to complete it - that’s Grant Kentala. He’s a super friendly guy, the type who can smile no matter what. Grant is a sophomore who goes around Lincoln Park High School with a great reputation and a dedication for skating. When he was first introduced to skating it was just a trend going around the neighborhood. After a while, the skaters became bike riders and Grant stuck to skating. He never really thought much of

himself as a skater, but as the time changed and seasons passed he became well known. Now Grant is very attached to skating, and one can always spot him on his board before school, after school and sometimes even at lunch. Going around asking good skaters who is most dedicated they all say Grant Kentala, because he has a good reputation, practices and has become better at skating. Skating is much more than just a hobby to some; people take it seriously as another part in life. Just like Ausar and Grant something big can start, who knows they’re barely sophomores. Skating is a true form of expression for some. People have different ways of skating, just like an artist has different styles of painting. Skateboarding is like having a catwalk for a fashion show, going down the middle showing what all the person has. Skating should be taken as a form of expression just as art, music, and fashion would be.

I would love to see the value of skateboard’s cultural relevancy, the “story,” be more focused on the incredible skill and progression of the skaters as opposed to the size of their bank accounts or how many medals they won. - Eben Sterling, Thrasher Magazine ONLINE:

Hear more from Grant

Vision 411/ Fall 2012

Vision 411/ Fall 2012





Story and Photos by Rayan Merida-Corado, Angelo Blaney and Brenda Benitez

magination fills my mind with thoughts of what expresses me . How do these things make me unique? What can I do to separates me from every other teenager going through their journey of finding themselves and living life. How about modifying my body What are body modifications you may ask? Body modifications are when you change your appearance by getting tattoos or piercing. People can change these things about thier body for religious reasons, group member affiliation, and in memory of important people/events, culture, or just a form of self-expression. A 2007 Pew Research Center survey found that 36 percent of those ages 18 to 25 have at least one tattoo. Dr. Laumann, a professor of dermatology and chief of general dermatology at Northwestern University’s Fienberg School of Medicine told the American Academy of Dermatology that the acceptance of body art may now start in childhood. “All young people I know take their children to parties, and the child comes home with a temporary tattoo,” she said. “Mom 16

Vision 411/ Fall 2012

thinks it’s alright – you’ve told that child that decorating the skin is OK.” Dr. Armstrong, EdD, RN, professor emerita at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing said, “We know that one of the reasons people obtain body art is that it makes them feel good, feel special and unique, it’s so interesting to step into the lobby of a tattoo parlor and see who’s there. It’s a cross section of individuals, from the 15-year-olds to the 60-year-olds.” Travis Wilson is a teenager who decided to express himself through tattoos and piercings. One of Travis’ tattoos is of a jack in a box on his right arm that represents his childhood because he used to collect them. On the left side of his arm, he has a tattoo that reads “Love Dori.” The significance of this tattoo is the huge part that his aunt plays in his life. His aunt supports him in everything he does and pushes him to make good decisions. Travis also has three piercings that he has done himself. His brothers had tattoos and piercings before him so he pierced his cartilage in order to look different from his brothers. “No one else does what I do



or looks like me,” he said. Joyce Rayes, another teen that also decided to express herself through tattoos and piercings. Her first tattoo was of the star from the Filipino flag with an island on top of it. “It represents my ethnicity, my culture and my roots,” she said. She also has a tattoo of the Chicago train map, which represents where she grew up and the way she gets around town. Adolescence is a time of trying to figure out who you want to be. Figuring out how you want to look, dress, talk, and what you like. Everyone is different in his or her own Vision 411/ Fall 2012

way. Teens like Joyce and Travis use body modifications to show the world how they are unique. It seems like society is becoming more accepting of the way these teens choose to express them selves, and those who were outcasts before become the new normal.

ONLINE: Hear more teen tattoo stories Vision 411/ Fall 2012



Tattoo Virgin by Michael Martinez

“Kling Kling� is all you hear when you enter the building of filled with music and buzzing sounds. The burnt smell of cigarettes with a mix of alcohol is all you smell. You then come up to the dark brown wooden table you put down the 2 Benjamin Franklin faces. At that moment he points you to go to the back nervously and heart throbbing you walk in the pitch dark, entering the deep blood induced room as if it seems like a slaughterhouse. Beams of light making the chair look like the winning prize at an action off. You sit down heart still throbbing and beating faster than before. As you go sit in the chair your mind racing faster and faster it will be over soon. This is when gut-wrenching fear comes out of you as if it was your soul leaving your body. Slowly raising your soft, smooth, cotton protection and allowing the orange smooth skin to be seen, you breathe harder and harder your heart about to burst out of your chest then you utter the word heart.. Closing your eyes tighter than ever before clenching your teeth waiting for the bee to finally sting you. Taking a deep breath he goes for it, the sharp end point of the machine hits you as if it was the wind. When the venom induced snake was done. You stand up as in that split second your old wrinkly skin just falls of just like a snake would when they are shedding. You can be anything you want those are the famous words that most parents say over thousands ways to express who you are. From the butterflies to the flaming skulls to spider bites to snake bits to making yourself look like a cat to even splitting your tongue in half. Thousands to ONLINE: choose the question Hear Michael is which one is read his poem for you? 18

Vision 411/ Fall 2012


Visio n Roxan aO Lane sorio, 16, Tech H S.

7, itez, 1 a Be n Brend teuben HS. Von S

Asael Reyes, 16,

411 A u

Lincoln Park HS.

thor s

Ang Ogde elo Blaney n Inte , rnati 18, onal HS I like

y n are m d, r ressio of exp I skateboa s m r n fo vorite wing. For fu draw. fa y M d dra ans. raft an s and gauge play Minec e brand is V o h s e it vor My fa

to dra that I w and do a exp rt. my ar ress myself It turns out t, too. throu I gh lik Conv erse a e wearing nd Va ns.

Expression: Style and mus ic What I do fo r fun: Shoppi Favorite shoe ng brand: Tomm y Hilfiger

Brenda Reyes, 15, Lincoln Park HS.

E What xpression : Dra I do Favor for fun: Sk wing ite sh a oe br teboardin and: V g ans

Michael Martinez, 15, Ogden International HS.


s, 1 emu ra L HS. d n h a Alej ane Tec L

Andr Ogden ea Aguilera ,1 Intern ation 5, al HS .

and doodling Expression: Music lls Drawing on my wa What I do for fun: l. coo too ng and bei : Vans Favorite shoe brand

little and . usic nd run m h g ,a hrou movies rse. t f l yse watch conve is g, ess m expr e to sin e brand o t Julio R v e I lik les. I lo rite sho Ogden In ojas, 15, d o ternatio doo My fav nal H

Expression: Writing poems What I do for fun: Play games and hang with friends

Rayan Merid a-Corado, 16 , Lincoln Park HS. I like to type o take a lot f ar of the pic t. I express pictures an db m tu type o res I take, a yself throu asically do g f shoe a n s that d music. I h the art I m ny are pr li etty d ke wearing ake, epend weath ing on any er. the


Expression: Drawing and What I do fo singing, r fun: Dance Favorite shoe , sing, take photos brand: Vans

Vision 411/ Fall 2012

Vision 411 Fall 2012  

Multimedia magazine produced by teens in the Visionaries program at Erie Neighborhood House.

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