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URBAN VOICES ISSUE 1, JUNE 2014


URBAN VOICES ISSUE 1, JUNE 2014

WASHINGTON PARK YOUTH PUBLICATION PROGRAM The Washington Park Youth Publication Program (WYPP) is a mentorship program in which high school students work one-on-one with University of Chicago mentors to create a publication that highlights the stories of organizations and people who are making meaningful contributions to the South Side community. WYPP works in close collaboration with Chicago Youth Programs and No Idle Hands to develop South Side teens’ writing skills and to replace negative headlines about these communities with positive ones. PROGRAM DIRECTORS SENIOR EDITOR & PUBLIC RELATIONS PARTNERSHIP LIAISON CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT FINANCES COMMUNITY BUILDING MEDIA DESIGNER

Jeanne Chauffour & Jeanne Liebermann Andreanne Breton Elizabeth Uddyback Lisa Fan, Sindhu Gnanasambandan & Zelda Mayer Sarah Huynh Zytha Kock Elena Hadjimichael

MENTORS

Eno Agolli Andrew Fialkowski Emily Holland Cynthia Mao Osito Nwanevu Miguel Ortega

CHICAGO YOUTH PROGRAMS The mission of Chicago Youth Programs (CYP) is to improve the health and life opportunities of at-risk youth using a comprehensive approach aimed at developing their capabilities. CYP provides over 40 programs in literacy, tutoring, mentoring, and recreation to youth, ages 3-25, living in the Washington Park, Near North/Cabrini Green, and Uptown/Rogers Park neighborhoods. CYP makes it their goal to empower each participant in their programs to escape poverty by attaining the skills and degree necessary to attain

NO IDLE HANDS No Idle Hands works to minimize exposure to acts of violence faced by inner city youth in Chicago by engaging and increasing their awareness to positive, productive, and entertaining activities taking place in their community. They believe that increasing youth’s exposure to positive activities will directly lower their connection to crimes. No Idle Hands seeks to become a main distribution channel of information about youth events utilized by organizations, churches, and educators.

Acknowledgements

Stephany Price (Chicago Youth Programs), Paris Wells (No Idle Hands), Crystal Coats (UChicago Community Service Center), Trudy Langendorf, Tianna Paschel (UChicago Dept. of Political Science), Waldo Johnson (UChicago School of Social Service Administration), Shaz Rasul (Neighborhood Schools Program), Ben Waltzer (UChicago Careers in Journalism, Arts & Media), Vickie Sides (Resources for Sexual Violence Prevention), Anamaria Hernandez, Michelle Lee.

Photo credit

Front and back cover, Nikki Bruce (Grey Matter Photography). “Aspiring DJ,” Gemini Jones. “A Basketball Journey,” Jeanne Lieberman. “Role Models for Sale,” Stephany Price.

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IN THIS ISSUE 4

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ASPIRING DJ By Anastasia Minter Gemini Jones, a 25-year-old DJ who has performed all over the country, offers advice to young DJs who want to break into the business. A BASKETBALL JOURNEY By Skye Minter Improving at basketball and building character with the help of supportive teammates and a tough coach. DOING GOOD By Jeremiah McKinley Profiles of two selfless community members who make positive contributions to others in need, without asking anything in return. CIRCULAR HEAVEN By Karran Davis A pĂŚan to pizza.

ROLE MODELS FOR SALE By Monique Roundtree What if you could buy a role model at a store? How would you pick the right person to help you build your future and meet your goals?

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MEET OUR AUTHORS

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Aspiring DJ

GEMINI JONES REFLECTS ON SUCCESS AND HER ROOTS BY ANASTASIA MINTER

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hen I hear my DJ name I feel like a superhero,” says DJ Gemini Jones, 25, whose real name is Nyera Jones. She chose her DJ name because her zodiac sign is Gemini and her last name is Jones. She began her DJ career on February 13, 2008. She started DJing because she loves music and spent time around other DJs. Now that she is a professional DJ, she loves to feel like she can control the crowd like her puppets. Since then she has been everywhere: New York, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, and elsewhere. Her favorite place to DJ is New York City, followed by Miami. Her favorite DJ experience of all has been DJing in front of 5,000 college students. She likes traveling to different places to see how they DJ in different styles. Miami clubs, she says, have way better energy than those in Chicago. But when asked what type of DJ she is, she replied, “I try not to categorize myself as Chicago or New York... I do my thang no matter where I am.” Her favorite equipment, she says, is turntables. In the near future she plans to DJ for Reheat Miami back in Florida. She learns a lot from traveling, learning about music, meeting new people, and experimenting with different DJ sounds. She works on her showmanship, talking on the microphone and entertaining the crowd. And as she gets better and better, she earns more. She feels lucky to have a job doing something she loves. Even though she is a skilled DJ, she hasn’t forgotten where she started. She enjoys teaching future DJs the tricks of the trade. As far as advice to DJ hopefuls, she said, “[becoming a DJ] is a long process. Nothing ever happens overnight. If you actually care about it, be serious about it. Respect the craft. Practice, practice, practice. Have patience.’’ As I learned from Gemini, becoming a successful DJ takes time, and you get better as you keep up with it, and you must love it for the music itself. ▪

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Gemini Jones is a DJ who has performed in many cities in the US.

The author turns tables with DJ Gemini Jones.


A Basketball Journey THE SKYE’S THE LIMIT BY SKYE MINTER

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was in sixth grade when I first started playing basketball. Basketball was always a challenge, but when I got the hang of it, it came naturally. Basketball was a challenge because I never knew how to play; you have to dribble with one hand, no fouls, no hacking. With basketball, there are lots of rules, and you have to control your attitude. When I was in eighth grade, a basketball coach from a high school came to recruit me to their school. That’s how I ended up at Wendell Phillips High School. Now, the friends I hang out with enjoy playing sports and find it really fun and interesting. When I first met my new teammates, they were very welcoming. I didn’t know anything about their learning technique, so it was hard for me at first. There was practice everyday, and practice sessions were really long and difficult. But the longer the workout, the better I got. The coach started to get strict by telling us to keep our grades up, stay focused in class, and try our hardest to stay out of drama, so that we can be ourselves, not followers. The coach became really strict once he got to know me, but now I realize that he works hard to keep the team together. It’s very important that you stay close with your team and work together because they are the ones you have to play with at the end. It takes time to work at basketball, so I tried it and did my best. At the beginning when I first started playing basketball, I used to always give up on myself and stop, but then my teammates encouraged me to keep going and never give up. My teammates are the best; they are fun to hang around and are very helpful. Basketball is one of my favorite sports because it keeps you active and, no matter what, you have fun. When I get older, I plan on playing college basketball and being very successful at it. Then I will encourage others to play. ▪

The author shoots some hoops at the Chicago Youth Programs gym.

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Doing Good

POSITIVE CONTRIBUTORS TO OUR COMMUNITY BY JEREMIAH MCKINLEY

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n our society today, we rarely have wonderful contributors, who are here to give back. Yet, in my community, we are fortunate to have a lot of people who are there to help out and give back to others. Back when my parents were growing up, I believe the community was even more helpful towards each other. They were working together in unity, and it was safer and more organized. Nowadays, we fail to realize much of that. But, I have found some outstanding contributors in our community, who give back and help out. In one of my interviews, my pastor’s wife tells us about what she experienced while at the supermarket. She says: “I remember I went with my husband to the store. A man then came up to us and said he’d been shot. When we looked at his leg, blood was gushing out, and the bullet looked as though it was still inside. My husband dropped all of our groceries, put the man in the back of our car, and drove him to the hospital. My husband checked on this man every day until he was healed and able to leave!” I met Mrs. Elly my first year of high school. I was going around greeting all of my teachers for the year, when I bumped into my Literature teacher. A short, lightskinned woman, with long black hair and glasses, Mrs. Elly makes a modest first impression on someone. I asked for her name, and she told me, “it’s Mrs. Elly,” in a calm, low-key tone. Over the next two years, I got to know Mrs. Elly very well. A few friends and I would go out to lunch with her, and we would always stay after school to talk and help kids who came in with problems. Not only is Mrs. Elly a teacher, but she is also a good worker, and sometimes even kind of a therapist. When I asked her about her contributions to the community, she told me, “I am able to donate every month to our veterans in Afghanistan and help kids who are in need at my school and going through difficult times.” It is this aspect of Mrs. Elly’s personality that I want to focus on, namely her contributions to the community, not only as a teacher, but also as a human being. My acquaintance with my pastor, Bishop Crittenden, is somewhat different and longer in nature. He became pastor of my

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church in 2001, after my grandfather, who was the pastor before him, died. A tall, darkskinned man, with a salt and pepper shade of hair, he is a talkative pastor, who is very engaging to all of his church members, and other pastors as well. He usually picks me up and takes me home every Sunday to go to church and also provides coffee and donuts for everyone during our break. He is an exceptionally generous person. Likewise, in his case, I want to highlight the many ways he has helped the wider community, not only as a pastor, but also as a loving Father.

BOTH OF THESE INDIVIDUALS WORK HARD AT HELPING OTHERS, AND RECEIVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BUT LOVE AND SUPPORT IN RETURN.

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Comparisons Between Mrs. Elly And Mr. Crittenden

astor Melvin Crittenden and Mrs. Camille Elly are both important contributors to the community. In Mrs. Elly’s interview, she states, “I do not receive anything from helping others. I’ve done these things out of the kindness of my heart and refuse any money offered. I love being nice!” In an interview with Pastor Crittenden,

he states, “I’ve always loved to help those who are in need. I definitely do not receive anything offered. I feel like it is my duty, being a pastor, to help those who really need it.” Both of these individuals work hard at helping others, and receive absolutely nothing but love and support in return. In addition, these two have both have done something extraordinary, that they would never forget. Pastor Crittenden tells me: “I’ll never forget the time a member of my church passed away. She had no insurance and no additional money for a funeral. I felt honored that I was able to reach out and help her family pay for the funeral. I also bought food and gave symphony cards to them, as well. They were very happy and thanked me for my generosity. That, I’ll never forget!” In Mrs. Elly’s case, “ I remember when I had just got[ten] a divorce from my first husband. I was completely devastated. So, I decided to go up to my classroom to grade some papers. When I was able to leave, I noticed someone outside crying. When I went out, I noticed it was one of my students. She said her parents were physically abusing her, and she hadn’t bathed or eaten in days. I was able to take her into my home [and] help her, and then her aunt from Memphis came and took her into her home. I was glad I was able to help this child in need.” So, both of these individuals have done things that are in the same spirit of helping their community, and this is why I chose them to be interviewed. ▪


Circular Heaven BY KARRAN DAVIS

Circular heaven Embedded in a pan I try to get My hands on it any way I can I love the smell That it leaves in the air Pizza to me should be everywhere I would eat it for breakfast And eat more for lunch Pizza should be included In everyday brunch The love I have for pizza Is very real You just don’t know how It makes me feel The feeling it leaves after I eat it is great I just keep stacking slices On top of my plate I can eat a whole box And still crave more The chills I get when Pizza crosses my door I’m afraid that the thing that I love might be the death of me And bring me to the floor But I’ll keep eating The baked masterpiece Until I can’t eat anymore.

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Role Models for Sale CHOOSING SOMEONE TO GUIDE YOU IN LIFE BY MONIQUE ROUNDTREE

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hat if there were role models for sale? Wouldn’t that be awesome? What if all stores sold role models starting at $500. I bet everyone would enjoy that! The whole world would have role models. Even role models would have role models. Well, I’m sorry to say that will never happen! You have to go out into the world and explore your future to find someone you would consider to be your role model. Many people fail to realize that there are so many wonderful people out here in the world who can be an example for you in this way. They may not be the best looking, or the right size, modelwise, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts and what they have in store for you to help build your future and reach your goals that really matters. Basically, what’s important is getting educational and mental support. Everyone needs a role model. Everyone needs someone to look up to, get advice from, have a good time with, or to just be in their corner, supporting them through any- and everything. It is well known that role models make huge impacts on people’s lives, but it is important to0 pick wisely because not all role models are good models to follow, and only they can give you the advice you need to live a good life.

EVERYONE NEEDS SOMEONE TO LOOK UP TO, GET ADVICE FROM, HAVE A GOOD TIME WITH 8

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Stephany Price, director of Chicago Youth Programs and one of the author’s role models. For instance, I had a role model who couldn’t lead me in the wrong direction. I want to be just like her. That person was my mother. My mom was my role model because she made me feel proud and grateful, wanting to wake up every day feeling like I have a reason to be alive. Anytime I had a problem, I knew who to go to – no matter what problem it was, no matter how bad I thought it was. She always found the good in every situation. I loved that about her. That’s part of who I am now, my personality. Whenever my friends are faced with a problem, they come to me because they know that I have an answer and I can comfort them and make them smile. My mom’s legacy was also passed down to a couple of people in the Chicago Youth Programs (CYP): Ms. Mobley and Ms. Stephany. These two incredible women have made a tremendously positive mark in my life since my mother passed. Today, these women are my role models. I joined CYP, located in the Washington Park neighborhood, when I was 3 years old. My mom felt like this would offer a safe haven, a “second school.” It was this program that helped me maintain good grades and achieve academic goals throughout my career in school.

Ms. Mobley, whom I met at CYP, involved me in a tutoring program, providing me with help in a range of subjects. Ms. Stephany, meanwhile, got me started with Children Teaching Children (CTC), an extracurricular activity that I get paid for. Both of these wonderful ladies included me in programs that they knew were going to help me become successful. It is important to have a role model because you need to have somebody to lead you in the right direction. Someone that you consider to be trustworthy or who can play the role of a “walking diary.” Someone you feel stress-free around and who makes you feel like you can do anything. Everyone needs a special person in their life who they can consider to be their role model. You will need to have at least one person to help you become successful. Many people have multiple role models, which increases your chance of being successful and working at a faster pace in life, or just having a lot of people loving you and wanting you to be successful. If you know someone that has helped your future begin, then, hey! That’s your role model! ▪


MEET OUR AUTHORS KARRAN DAVIS If your life had a title, what would it be? “The Pothole Riddled Highway.” Because I hope to have a long life, but the way the world’s set up, there are gonna be some tough times; I’ll run into some problems. What’s your happiest memory? That’s tough… My baptism. I got baptized in a swimming pool. At the time we were a newly founded church, so we didn’t have a stable church building… I got baptized in the 7 feet, I’ll never forget. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? The moon. I wanna see how it is up there.

JEREMIAH MCKINLEY If your life had a title, what would it be? “Jeremiah McKinley” What’s your happiest memory? 8th grade graduation, because I was able to go to a new school and be around new people. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? The White House, because I would be able to say, “I have been to the White House.”

ANASTASIA MINTER If your life had a title, what would it be? “An OK, Fun Life.” Because it’s okay, not the best life, but it’s fun! What’s your happiest memory? DJing at CYP with Gemini Jones over the summer. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would tour New York City because there is a lot of shopping and fun stuff.

SKYE MINTER If your life had a title, what would it be? “Almighty” What’s your happiest memory? When I went to Six Flags with my friends when I was 13. We had a lot of fun because it was a nice experience. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Miami and LA. There’s no better place in the world. LA has a lot of stuff going on. They’ll be turned up to the M-A-X.

MONIQUE ROUNDTREE If your life had a title, what would it be? “Strength Is My Lucky Charm” What’s your happiest memory? When I graduated 8th grade. It was really special because that’s when I was the closest to success. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would go to Florida and Las Vegas because Las Vegas has the best malls and the best water parks, and Florida has the best swimming pools and spas.

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Urban Voices | Issue 1, June 2014  

The first issue of Urban Voices, a publication made possible by the Washington Park Youth Publication Program (WYPP) and Chicago Youth Progr...

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