Radio can be a powerful medium for storytelling. Just ask a group of students at Columbia's Rock Bridge High School.
In this episode of Thinking Out Loud, we hear four stories reported, written and produced by teens through Making Waves Youth Radio Initiative. Making Waves Youth Radio Initiative empowers young people to share their true stories. The program was started about a year ago by MU students Kelsey Kupferer and Michaela Tucker. The program guides teenagers through the process of creating radio journalism pieces, and provides students with a forum to share perspectives that are relevant to the community at large. But more than that, the program encourages students to to explore the social issues that are important to them, and to understand how they can make a difference through storytelling.
Making Waves youth reporter Mariah Doze is a senior at Rock Bridge High School. She chose to report on educational inequality.
My story is about educational inequality in the classroom, and how stereotypes influence that educational inequality. With the issues going on at Mizzou right now, that's something that hits really close to home, and it's an issue that the world needs to hear about. And I wanted to be a part of making sure that happens.
Mariah says everyone should have the opportunity to share their voice with the community.
It's really important that everybody has a chance to express something about themselves that they feel is important to the world. Journalism and the media has such a big impact in the way we see things and if we can all have a chance to add to that perspective we'd be a more wellrounded society.
Youth reporter Jenna Liu is also a senior at Rock Bridge High School. She chose to report on racism and colorism in immigrant communities.
Around the time I was thinking about what I wanted to report on there was just so much vitriol in the news toward immigrants, and it got me thinking about my own identity as a first generation immigrant. I felt like I was an outsider. Like my family, because they hadn't, like, sailed across on the Mayflower, was somehow lesser than everyone else.
Jenna says she hopes her story sparks conversations about current immigration issues, like Syrian refugees.
I think it's so important for people in Columbia to realize that outsiders aren't dangerous, that they're not different, that they're just people. And I think it's important to celebrate the humanity in everyone. And part of that is accepting people who are different than you.
Making Waves youth reporter Zoya Khan’s story is titled, “Growing up Muslim in Mid- Missouri.”
I chose to talk about something that was pretty personal to me, just because it's not something I really talk about too much otherwise, and I thought this would be a really good outlet to kind of get that story out so more people could hear about it. Zoya says she hopes people who listen to her story come away with the understanding that Muslims are not all the same. I hope people take away the fact that it's difficult sometimes to be different, in high school or just in life in general. So, just that it's OK to be different. That's one thing I really hope they take away.
Our fourth Making Waves youth reporter, Madison Wright, is a competitive swimmer who chose to investigate what she calls “performance-based acceptance.”
It’s the idea that people sometimes base their selfworth on quantitative things, like academic grades and athletic performance. I decided to talk about performance-based acceptance and how that has impacted my life and the anxiety that it has caused me in the past. I wanted to talk about how we should transition from "This is what I need to do in order to be loved and accepted" to "This is who I am, and that's why I should be loved and accepted, by others and by myself."
Making Waves is a semesterlong program with the next round of stories scheduled for Summer 2016. To hear all of the stories produced by Making Waves Youth Radio Initiative, and to learn more about the program here. You can also find them on Facebook and on Twitter at @MWYRI.
Listen for new episodes of Thinking Out Loud each Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. on KBIA 91.3FM.