TeenBloc students speak out on vital issues in their latest ‘zine

Photo above by Brad Neathery used by permission via Unsplash.

At TeenBloc, students in 8th through 12th grade learn to advocate for themselves and express their points of view. These teens come from a wide range of backgrounds, but they have a goal in common: They seek change. And as they dive into creative projects together and find their voices, they discover that they really do have the power to make that change happen.

TeenBloc members get hands-on experience with things like journalism and social media content creation, as well as community outreach. You can check out some of their latest work: Recently the Teen Bloc program, which is run by A+ Schools, partnered with Perry Traditional Academy and the Pittsburgh Community Vaccine Collaborative to create the 2022 Community Roundtable Zine

In brief posts in the TeenBloc zine, local teenagers voice their perspectives on the issues that impact them most.

For this publication, the teens focused their work on things that impact them directly, including equity in education and health in our region, and one of the biggest issues facing young people today — social and emotional health. 

In a powerful section called Student Hierarchy of Needs, these teen writers dug into questions around what high schoolers really need in order to succeed — and how students at some schools aren’t getting those basic needs met. They write about conversations they had at Perry Traditional Academy.

“Many students expressed feeling sluggish or not overall healthy, due to the lack of nutritional value in most lunches provided,” they wrote. “Not having healthy lunch options inhibits the body on a mental — as well as physiological — level. Many students will not eat the food, which then sets a tone for the rest of their day.”

The teen reporters also partnered with the Community Vaccine Collaborative, surveying their peers to better understand varying opinions that students may have about getting the COVID vaccine. 

“Why,” they wanted to know, “do less diverse schools have more children vaccinated than more diverse schools?” 

Among the answers they found:

“I think the health barriers for COVID vaccines are people being afraid to get it because they think the government put something in it and because false facts about the vaccine,” a student named Elijah wrote. “People not getting the vaccine is affecting kids too, because they can’t go to school because there is too many COVID cases, and that can be prevented if everyone gets the vaccine.”

To see previous TeenBloc projects or to sign up your own 8th-12th grader to participate, click here.

And to learn more about opportunities for Pittsburgh-area kids to speak out, check out our Kidsburgh Guide: Helping young people use their voices.