Media & Communication Department

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Katie Kohler
Writing and Media Production at "Just for Kids"

I began volunteering at an Allentown after-school program, Just for Kids, in my sophomore year while taking Documentary Research. My work has continued up through the current semester. During Documentary Research, I became concerned with the corporate interests that are encroaching upon education and that treat youth as passive consumers instead of active citizens. Exploring this subject, I decided that I wanted to implement a writing program at JFK that would help the youth to find an active voice in their immediate community. This community included their peers, the Muhlenberg volunteers, and other adult volunteers from the Church of the Mediator where the program was held. Whether commercial passivity was at work or not (for I found many other factors that could have been at work), "middle school" age youth often did (and do) not actively speak out in their community. My goal was to help them speak out through the development of a newsletter that was written by the youth with assistance from other volunteers and me. This project closely connected to the aims of social justice, because it taught the youth that what they had to say in their community did (and does) matter. Teaching youth to have a voice in their community is essential for instilling democratic ideals in the next generation. In my presentation, I will also briefly talk about my continuing work at JFK. This semester I am in the process of developing a "JFK talent CD" in which the youth will have a chance to record their own talents (e.g. singing, spoken word poetry or stories).