Category Archives: teen program

Media and Expression: An Approach for Helping Girls Process Trauma

Teen Voices Editor and Publisher Jessica Moore wrote an article for Youth Media Reporter about using media to help teen girls process traumatic events in their lives.

When the earthquake struck Haiti in January, many of our teen editors received devastating news about family members that had not survived the disaster. Teen Voices reached out and provided a space for our Haitian teens to recount their memories and emotions in the aftermath of the earthquake. Later, some of those teens told their stories on radio shows in the Boston area.

In her article, Jessica discusses the ways that providing opportunities for teens to share privately and publicly can help them to process difficult emotions surrounding traumatic situations.

Boston Globe Columnist Sarah Rodman Visits Teen Voices

Boston Globe arts and music columnist Sarah Rodman visited Teen Voices last Friday to talk about her start in journalism.

During her visit, she told the teen editors about some of the famous people she’s interviewed – including Nick Jonas and Snoop Dogg — which the teens found particularly exciting.

Rodman also shared some of her techniques for conducting successful interviews, such as being persistent in asking questions in order to get your interviewee to open up. She also suggests talking to people who know your interviewee in order to find out more information for your interview.

Rodman offered the girls some great advice about handling criticism as an arts and music columnist. She says she constantly reminds herself that as a columnist, it’s her job to write her opinion. If a reader doesn’t like it, that’s fine. When she gets harsh emails, she always responds politely and says that she’s sorry they feel that way. We’re so glad that Rodman visited Teen Voices to share her experiences with our teen editors.

Please visit the Globe’s website to read some of her work.

Sarah Rodman shares her experiences with Teen Voices' teen editors.

AMPLIFY 2010: Anna Deavere Smith

On April 14, 2010, Teen Voices will celebrate girls recreating media at our fourth annual AMPLIFY fundraising event! This year, we will celebrate the redesign and relaunch of Teen Voices magazine and TeenVoices.com.

We are thrilled to announce Anna Deavere Smith as our keynote speaker for the event. The actor, playwright, and teacher enjoys a remarkably wide-ranging and respected career. Critics and audiences nationwide have acclaimed Smith’s work, which explores the American character and our multifaceted national identity.

Smith is best known for her documentary theatre style in plays such as Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles; in both, she played multiple and diverse roles written from interviews and archives of actual events. Teen Voices is excited to welcome Smith as our keynote speaker!

Buy your tickets before this event sells out! http://www.teenvoices.com/amplify/index.html

For more on Anna Deavere Smith:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Deavere_Smith

http://www.annadeaveresmithworks.org/

http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/232/index.html

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0807332/

Top Five Ways YOU Can Get Involved with Teen Voices!

By Teen Voices editorial intern Jackie Catcher

You have a voice and we want to hear it! Teen Voices is about you—your thoughts, your feelings, and your input. Here are five ways for you to amplify your voice.

1. Become a teen editor! Are you a Boston-area teen interested in journalism? Here’s your chance to gain experience while meeting new friends and having a fantastic time. Teen editors meet to write the features you see on our website and in our magazine. Although our fall session is in full swing, there’s always the spring and summer sessions to look forward to. So start planning ahead and visit our website www.teenvoices.com to apply.

2. Share the goods. Your words matter and we work hard to make sure they’re heard, but we can’t do it alone. Like something you read online? E-mail to a friend or post it on your own blog or profile. Love the magazine? Give submissions to your girlfriends or family members as holiday or birthday gifts. Want to see Teen Voices in your public or school library? Ask the librarian to stock it. Spread the word and stretch your impact.

3. Become a reviewer! Like music? Books? Free stuff? Teen Voices reviewers receive free books and CDs before they’re even released to the public. All we ask in return is your opinion, so is it a bestseller or a flop…you be the judge.

4. Become a Teen Voices Activist of the Month (AOTM) Are you a teen who’s changing your world? Are you passionate about a cause, devoted to an issue, or involved in an organization? We highlight movers and shakers like you each month in our online magazine. Nominate a friend or nominate yourself; we’d love to hear about what you’re doing to make our world a better place.

5. Amplify your voice! Submit your artwork, photos, poetry, essays, opinions, short stories and more to Teen Voices. We can’t get enough of your voice, so keep the submissions coming. Visit our website www.teenvoices.com to learn more and submit!

Two Truths and a Lie

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The girls got a laugh out of Kassandra's truths and lie.

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Pondering over their votes... which story was a lie?

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Judelle: "For the first time in six months I’m not partying this weekend. I don’t like kool-aid. I haven’t done my hair in a month."

Mentoring Begins, Plus a Visit from Rachel Skerritt!

October: Falling leaves, apples, and the beginning of Teen Voices’ fall program! We just finished our first week of mentoring, so all our teen editors have met their mentors and are already hard at work researching their article topics. We have 11 mentoring groups working on magazine features, and they turned in their great article proposals to Jessica yesterday!

Here are some of the great pieces that are in the works. Mentor Brittany and her teen editors Ajané, Sabrina I., and Bria are working on an article about sex trafficking. Kat is working with Malisa, Laurén, and Tekeisha on celeb fashion and how it influences teen girls. Mentor Julia is working with Sasha, Ariana, and Denesha to research ways for teen girls to keep their online personas on the up and up. Carling’s group—Antoinise, Kassandra, and Arismar—is thinking about how to write the most effective college application essays. Mentor Tarra is going to tackle stereotypes, along with Lynn, Talia, and Paige.

Reynelle, Mia, and Shirelle, along with mentor Jeanette, are gathering great advice on sexual assault for our Dear D column. If you have any questions about sexual assault, we want to hear them – email us at teenvoices@teenvoices.com. We won’t use your name or any identifying details. We always love to hear from Teen Voices readers, especially when we have a chance to help them out.

We can’t wait to see all these articles come together!

We’re also excited about this afternoon’s workshop with Boston author Rachel Skerritt. She’s coming to talk to our teen editors about how she got started as a writer, and she’s going to share an excerpt from one of her books and lead the teens in a writing exercise. We can’t wait!

More soon! In the meantime, come visit us at teenvoices.com.

Teen Voices Kicks Off Fall Session

Our Fall journalism mentoring session started this week! First up, our fabulous new and returning teen editors spent a full week getting to know all about Teen Voices magazine and what we do here. They toured the office, had some snacks and took part in a few serious discussions. Don’t get the wrong impression—there was definitely a ton of laughter too! The girls had a blast getting to know each other through icebreaker activities like Two Truths and a Lie (where girls guessed which of three statements about one another was false) and Diversity Bingo (where girls had to find and check off when they met someone who was not born in the USA, someone whose parents are two different ethnicities, etc.).  They also got to know program director Saun Green, and are starting a series of Friday afternoon workshops. This week’s was about job readiness, interviewing skills, and how to be a successful employee.

The teen editors met with Jessica, Teen Voices’ editor and publisher, to learn about some editing and writing ground rules, and about picking a great topic for their articles! We talked about their goals for their time at Teen Voices – they’re all psyched to improve their writing skills, to expand their horizons, and to learn about the magazine world. We worked with the girls to find out their interests, and they’ve all picked the sections of the magazine that they want to work on. Next up, Saun and Jessica will match each teen editor with a mentor, and they’ll get started on eleven weeks of brainstorming, researching, interviewing, writing, and editing their articles!

Speaking of mentors, we’re so excited for them to start on Monday! Jessica ran a weekend of training with this great group of college women earlier in October; they can’t wait to work with the teens on creating great content for our online and print magazines.

We can’t wait to see what the teen editors come up with during our fall session. Check back here for more news on what the girls are up to, and visit teenvoices.com for new monthly content by, for, and about young women!

Teen Voices Recognizes Summer 2009 Teen Editors

All of Teen Voices’ teen editors and mentors gathered with staff at Boston’s Calderwood Pavilion on August 18 for the Summer 2009 Awards Ceremony.  It was great to have everyone together to celebrate the accomplishments of the girls who worked with us during the summer program!

Program director Saun Green and peer leaders Judelle, Tina, and Sally led the order of ceremonies, bringing each mentoring group up one at a time to receive their certificates of completion and get their “superlative” award.

The teen editors worked on some really exciting content for Teen Voices Online and the fall print issue.  With guidance from their mentors, they focused on pressing issues, including the college admissions process, the portrayal of women in the media, women in male-dominated careers, and art made by teen girls in prison. Others had the opportunity to focus on our Dear D advice column, reviews, and creative writing submissions.  Be sure to keep an eye out for the awesome articles and art that the girls worked on!

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At the awards ceremony, the teen editors and their mentors read paragraphs to each other that pointed out highlights from their summer of work and fun. This was a chance for them to recognize the friendships that they had built…and the audience got a case of the warm fuzzies, responding with an “Awwww!” after each reading. Here’s an example of the remarks the teen editors and mentors wrote for each other:

From Teen Sasha to Mentor Courtney:

“Courtney, you have been such an amazing mentor.  From bringing us amazing food — from peanut-butter pretzels to Italian cookies — you always kept our palettes entertained. But not only that—you kept us entertained as well.  You kept the article on track, but we still managed to have fun. From the first day on, with the M&M game, we all knew you were going to be a great mentor. I actually remember you leaving and Jocelyn, Kassandra, and I all being like, “She’s so cute!!” From going to the park to browsing through H&M, we always had a good time.  Though I have to say that our sleepover is definitely my favorite memory of the session, having trouble getting on the train, asking Peter questions about Kassandra’s love life, trying to scare you with Nathalie’s creepy voice—these are all memories that I will treasure.  Thank you so much for being an awesome mentor, Courtney!!”

From Mentor Courtney to Teen Sasha:

“If there were a Match.com for friends, I think I would get paired up with Sasha based on interests alone. She shares my love of Urban Outfitters, M&Ms, and Regina Spektor. She, like me, is a huge Johnny Depp fan. We both love writing, reading and desire to travel the world. Just by reading her profile, I would think Sasha was a pretty cool girl. However, the real reasons I have come to admire Sasha would not fit in a Match.com profile.

She is perceptive. Whenever we would sit in groups, Sasha always made a point to play “gatekeeper” in our conversations. If any one of us was being quite or withdrawn, Sasha would ask us a question and try to engage everyone in the discussion. She is dedicated. Whether it’s staying loyal to her bank account, summer reading, friends, or even to herself, Sasha has the maturity and responsibility of someone far beyond her years. With Sasha, it is easy to forget she is only 14. She is wise. Though I’m sure many of her classmates share Sasha’s books smarts, she surpasses them in worldly knowledge. Her appreciation for literature, independent films and other cultures reveals an intelligence that reaches far beyond the classroom.

Sasha, my favorite memory of you is when you were on the Internet and you casually said “Hmm, maybe I should be a lawyer.” Just like that, as if it was the most natural and easy thing in the world. And if you woke tomorrow and said, “I think I’d like to win a Pulitzer Prize,” I would believe you could. Sasha, it is because of your insight, loyalty, and wisdom that you will succeed in whatever you do. Not just in your career, but in your life.”

Lots of family members attended the ceremony, too, and it was great to see them in the audience supporting their favorite teen girl! It was a fun summer evening to remember – and Teen Voices is extra proud of all the teen editors and mentors for their hard work and good humor!

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Taking Back the Music

You’re dancing away to your favorite song, enjoying the beat, and not necessarily noticing the words that are being used. But wait a second — what are all those icky things that male singers are saying about women? Why all this talk of bitches, strippers, and hos? All this sexism and degradation of girls and women is enough to make a lady lose her cool on the dance floor.

So this week, the girls at Teen Voices worked with program director Saun Green to analyze the words they hear when they hit “play” on the iPod. The girls put together a list of their 50 favorite performers. Then they crossed off all the people who degraded women in their songs. And you know what? There were only four names left on the list.

It made us all wonder — is it really that difficult for the multibillion-dollar music industry to sell songs that don’t degrade women and treat them like sex objects? Apparently the music industry needs teen girls to show them how it’s done! So the girls rewrote some lyrics to popular songs, replacing the sexism with words that empower women – and then they put on a Friday afternoon concert.

One group called themselves WomanNation, and they redid the lyrics to T-Pain’s hit song Can’t Believe It. In the original, T-Pain sings about a stripper and the places he’s going to “put” her with all his money. WomanNation responded with their own lyrics:

Boy, you don’t amaze me
Just get up off me
I’m my own woman
Nope you can’t flaunt, take, and toss me

Another group of girls took the stage to sing their version of Kid Cudi’s Day and Night, using lyrics that reminded girls not to let guys take advantage of their bodies:

Don’t be pressured
It’s not wrong to tell them no, no
And if he wants to leave then let him go
Got to tell them we ain’t an easy ho, ho

The next two groups re-worked Ron Browz’s song Pop Champagne, which objectifies and demeans women with the best of them! The Teen Voices girls developed two great alternatives to the original lyrics. The Pink Ladies danced up a storm as they sang:

I’m young and I’m cute, second best to none
And if you’re worthy, I’ll be your sunshine.
Sometimes I’ll let you call me yours
But wait — I’m not a toy!

The 21st Century Ladies had their say next, singing to girls:

Ladies everywhere, won’t you throw your hands up
If the way boys treatin’ you has you fed up?
Actin’ like we’re their cooks, their mothers, and their maids
Expecting us to freeze frame when they wanna get laid
Men can act stupid and they can act perverse
Cuz before you know it we’re gonna take over the universe!

Operation Take Back the Music was a success! Know any other songs with lyrics that degrade women? Write your own lyrics and send them to us. We’ll post our favorites right here on our blog. It’s time for YOU to take back the music!

The Vagina Monologues, Teen Voices style!

Vagina. That’s right — we said it. VAGINA. We live in a society where men are free to talk about their reproductive parts as much as they want. They can scratch and adjust in public and no one looks twice. But if we even mention our periods or anything south of our borders –- at least in a nonsexual way — guys sometimes act like we’re carrying the black plague.

Well, this week was Health Week at Teen Voices. The teen girls in our mentoring program watched Eve Ensler’s groundbreaking one-woman show The Vagina Monologues. Thanks to Ensler, vaginas everywhere are finally sharing their stories. They have their own “voices” and the freedom to talk about sex, love, periods, masturbation, and so much more.

So, inspired by Ensler, the girls wrote monologues for their vaginas. They even gave them fun names, like “Cherish” and “Kitty,” and then they took the stage.

What we found out in the monologues is that some of these vaginas are lonely! One of them, “Phoebe,” pointed out in her monologue, “No one talks to me … because I’m a vagina.”

The vaginas pointed out that they love the clothes we dress them up in: jewelry, satin, lace, thongs, and boy shorts. They also noted that they enjoy feeling a fresh breeze and some nice ocean water every now and then.

These opinionated vaginas want in on the decision to shave or not to shave. Some of these va-jay-jays finally gave their owners a piece of their minds, pointing out that a Brazilian wax is basically torture.

A lot of these vaginas talked about losing their virginity. Like Phoebe, many would like to have a visitor, but their owners are adamant that they wait for the right person to come along. “Lalani” doesn’t get why she shouldn’t be able to help with this decision. “Yeah,” this outspoken vagina said. “She’s my owner, but I should have an opinion too!”


The girls also talked about the importance of taking the right precautions against “gangs” like AIDS and other STDs. “These are not gangs you want anything to do with,” one vagina said. “Not at all.”

Throughout the show, the ladies at Teen Voices took pride in their bodies and the way they care for them and respect them. They were positive, caring, honest and blunt — and they get that their vaginas and sexuality are a part of them and help make them who they are.

So what about your vagina? Shouldn’t she get a chance to express herself too? If she had her own monologue, what would she say?