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The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) formed out of recognition that youth are critical to the future of democracy and that the digital age is introducing technological changes that are impacting how youth develop into informed, engaged, and effective actors.

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Updated: 28 min 58 sec ago

Remix Your Life Artist Spotlight: Annie

January 9, 2019 - 1:40pm
Oakland singer/songwriter Annie is featured on Remix Your Life’s latest project At the Moment — available everywhere you get music Jan 11, 2019!

The post Remix Your Life Artist Spotlight: Annie appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Original Music from YR Media: Found Sounds Track List

January 8, 2019 - 6:11pm

Listen to the full tracks from our video series “Found Sounds,” where music producers create beats using everyday sounds from different locations.

To see how these beats were made, check out all our “Found Sounds” videos.

The post Original Music from YR Media: Found Sounds Track List appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

This is What it Looks Like to Live with Mental Illness

January 8, 2019 - 12:36pm

Until you’ve lived with mental illness, you can’t really imagine what it’s like. It’s hard to explain to others why, exactly, you are distracted, depressed or anxious with no discernible cause. Receiving a diagnosis can bring both relief and disappointment. You’re happy to finally have the words to explain what you’re experiencing, but at the same time, you know that things may never return to “normal.”

It’s a lot more complicated than even the medical terms can explain. Michelle Ruano, 18, demystifies the experience by partnering with some of her peers living with mental illness and drawing what it’s like for them to navigate daily life. Below is some of her artwork, coupled with words from the people whose experiences she tries to bring to visual life.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is complicated. I’ll be like doing work in class and a second later I’ll be thinking about poodles riding a tricycle or something. I like to go somewhere quiet and just try to focus, but it’s something I can’t really control. People just think people with ADHD don’t want to pay attention, like it’s just an excuse not to do certain things. It’s annoying to hear people talk like that, since it’s an actual thing I live with, and it’s not easy. – Alejandro, 17


I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I get panic attacks, but they’re not like hyperventilating or anything. It’s more like everything just seems like too much at once and then I get super irritable, or I want to go away — like I can’t deal with anything anymore. That happens like all of the time in class, and it impacts the way that I interact with my friends. Depression, for me, is more like the absence of feeling things, like a lot of things that I’ll get super happy about, I don’t get happy about anymore. Or it just feels like a lot of nothingness all at once, and that’s very overwhelming. It’s not who I am but it is a part of me. – Anna, 17

Depression and Social Anxiety Disorder

Two years ago I was diagnosed with depression and social anxiety disorder. Depression is like if someone were to constantly weigh you down while social anxiety, it’s like the uninvited guests at a party that just comes out of nowhere. My social anxiety often makes me feel trapped even if I’m somewhere with a lot of people — especially if I’m somewhere with a lot of people. The two often intertwine with each other. My depression makes me feel bad about getting left out but my social anxiety doesn’t want me to go in the first place because I might do something to embarrass myself or I’m just too nervous to talk to other people, even if they’re my friends. – Michelle, 18

The post This is What it Looks Like to Live with Mental Illness appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

From Nothing to Something – Maximize Thrifting by Upcycling

January 7, 2019 - 3:12pm

When you’re a student, you don’t have that much money for expensive shoes and designer clothes, no matter how fly you’re try’na be. I had this issue until I discovered upcycling.

Upcycling involves taking a plain or old piece of clothing and turning it into something unique and new. It takes a combination of skills like customizing, hustling and artistry. But there are pitfalls. Done right, you’ll make a profit. Done wrong, you’ll just make a mess. Through my own upcycling, I’ve learned to sew, draw, paint and dye clothing. I’ve honed my upcycling skills to the point that it’s a source of side money for me, as well as a means to express my creativity. And now I’m chasing my fashion dreams in art school.

So if you’re like me and you want to make some cash while flexing your creativity, just follow these seven steps to turn old or boring clothing into something fresh.

1. Go thrifting! (Photo: Pexels Royalty Free Images)

Secondhand sources like eBay and Goodwill are great places to look for clothing to customize. Because the items are inexpensive, it’s no big deal if you mess up. You aren’t sacrificing anything. One note of caution, though: when shopping on eBay or any other similar sites, be sure to research the seller to avoid getting scammed.

2. Find an item that you want to customize

Customizable items include any article of clothing that can be painted, sewed or dyed. I suggest checking eBay, local outlets or thrift stores to find the cheapest shoes to customize. Don’t be afraid of less popular brands. Remember: people are paying for the art, not the shoe.

Start by finding some cheap or free stuff and practice so you can grow your skills without any risk. My first custom item was a single Puma suede shoe that I bought at Goodwill for $4. I just wanted something to practice on, so it didn’t matter that I only had one shoe!

3. Plan your design Sketch of a shoe, in advance of custumization. (Photo: Jeremias Arevalo)

My favorite pair of socks has flowers and some paisley on it. So I used that pattern as my inspiration to take a pair of white Adidas from plain to dope. I know it seems extra, but I do recommend sketching and coloring an idea onto paper for reference, even if it might not be the final design.

4. Set customer expectations (Photo: Pexels Royalty Free Images)

How an item can be customized depends on the type of clothing and material it’s made from. For example, painting on suede is a no go since it will ruin the material. Make sure your customer knows what’s possible before you start your project so they don’t get their hopes up (and come down hard on your design).

5. Set your price

Pricing is tricky. You’ll need to factor in time, your level of skill and the difficulty of the job the customer wants. You should ask yourself (reasonably) how much your work is worth. For example, if you’re selling your own original design — which demands a high level of artistic talent — it’s not unreasonable to charge more. And don’t let your customer haggle. This is specialized work, and they are choosing to go to you for YOUR services.

6. Set an appropriate timeline A shoe customization job in progress. (Photo: Jeremias Arevalo.)

I’m a procrastinator. When I first started customizing clothes, I wasn’t aware of how much time and attention to detail it would take. As a result, I’d stay up late scrambling to get things done at the last minute. Not only did I lose sleep, but the quality of the work suffered.

So if you’re doing a custom upcycling job, be sure to pace yourself. It’s important to have patience and put work into your detailing in order to achieve your look. If you give yourself enough time, the process is actually fun. Remember to take breaks if your hands are shaky, and to schedule work when you have the energy. Your effort will show in the final product.

7. Take A LOT of pictures from different angles and with good lighting. (Photo: Jeremias Arevalo)

This may sound obvious to my fellow Gen Z-ers, who’ve documented everything since the day they were born, but for the rest of y’all, take note: you want take glamour shots of your masterpiece. Do your work justice with good lighting and a thoughtful display.

8. Promote yourself Finished Koi Creepers. (Photo: Jeremias Arevalo)

Even when you’re done with your upcycling work, you have one more step to do. Make sure to promote yourself on social media or a website to show potential customers your dope talents. Before and after pics are a must.

9. GET THAT MONEY!! (Photo: Pexels Royalty Free Images)

My favorite step for sure: Go to your customer and get paid!

Some warnings:

  • When you make a mistake on the item, try your best to fix it in advance. But if the mistake can’t be covered up, contact the customer to let them know in advance. You might consider lowering your price depending on the error.
  • If you don’t know your customer very well, or you don’t trust them, make sure to ask for a certain amount of the cost in advance, because otherwise, you might get stiffed. Early on, I made a pair of shoes for a friend at school. When I brought them to him, he decided that he didn’t want to pay me. So, to this day, I’m stuck with these shoes.

Are you ready to get started upcycling? Here are some of my favorite sources for cheap customizing supplies:

Leather paint kit (for shoes, wallets etc.)

Amazon Sewing Kit

The post From Nothing to Something – Maximize Thrifting by Upcycling appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Remix Your Life Artist Spotlight: Yajj

January 7, 2019 - 1:43pm
Artist and producer Yajj is featured on Remix Your Life’s latest project At the Moment — available everywhere Jan 11, 2019!

The post Remix Your Life Artist Spotlight: Yajj appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Leaning on Religion for Healing

January 6, 2019 - 8:00am

I dealt with anxiety and depression for a long time. It got so bad, I started skipping school. The solution I found was actually right under my nose: I found comfort in church.

I’ve been going to church my whole life. My mom said I had to. But most of that time, it was just something I did without thinking.

Then around sixth grade, I started struggling with mental health. I had no hope whatsoever. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I remember going to class sweating and my body shaking, because I had so much fear of people smelling my sweat.

I turned to counseling but that didn’t help. That’s when I started reaching out to God. I felt like there wasn’t another option to take my pain away, so I prayed and read the Bible.

It didn’t happen overnight. My anxiety didn’t cool down until the middle of sophomore year.

I know, different people find different ways to deal with their mental health struggles. Some turn to therapy, or to music-making. For me, it was spirituality.

The post Leaning on Religion for Healing appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

ESL Speaker Turns Finance Whiz

January 2, 2019 - 11:17am

When Jennifer Tan Nguyen started kindergarten, Vietnamese was the only language she spoke. Her parents had recently fled Vietnam and knew little English. To top it off, she ended up in a bilingual program meant for Spanish speakers.

“There was only one Vietnamese tutor in the entire school district,” Nguyen, now 22, explained. “And so until third or fourth grade, I couldn’t speak in class. I could barely make friends. Ninety percent of the time, I was completely alone,” she said.

Eventually Nguyen learned enough English to speak with her peers.

But  — like the roughly 20 percent of students in the United States whose first language isn’t English — she still struggled. By high school, her accent was gone, but her homework and writing still betrayed the hallmarks of her language difficulties.

She put the past tense in present tense. Singular words were pluralized. Commas were always in the wrong places.

Teachers speculated that Nguyen didn’t proofread her work. But the opposite was true: she “always” did. “But we were never taught the basics of writing,” she explained. And so grammar errors snaked through her work as yet another marker of her “outsider” status.

Jennifer Tan Nguyen in kindergarten. (Courtesy of Jennifer Tan Nguyen )

“It was a constant struggle trying to write at the level of my peers,” she said. “Thankfully, I had great friends along the way who always offered their assistance to edit my papers and show me how to write better.”

Instead of going to her local high school, Nguyen ultimately chose a magnet school on the opposite side of her hometown in Cleveland, Ohio. In exchange for the grueling two-hour commute, her dreams came true when Nguyen became the first in her family to attend college. She started college classes at the age of 16. In Vietnam, neither of her parents got past middle school, leaving school in order to work. 

But despite her achievements, she always doubted herself.

“Being a first-generation student is not a title, but a burden that I always carry,” Nguyen said.

“I always believed that being a first-generation Asian student and a child from immigrant parents meant I had to go to Harvard and become a doctor or at least be better than 95 percent of the student population,” she said.

“I thought I wasn’t good enough. But eventually, I had a talk with my parents about how much a failure I was to them because I wasn’t the ‘Golden Asian Child’ like my peers were.”

Nguyen was shocked by their response.

“My parent’s wish was simple. They told me they never put such pressure on me. I was putting the pressure on myself. All they wanted was for me to have a stable job and be happy”

And that’s exactly what Nguyen aimed for.

With the help of College Now, a Cleveland education nonprofit, not only did Nguyen get help applying to college, but she eventually graduated from college on what was “basically a full ride.”

“Without College Now — specifically my mentors Ms. Graham and Ms. O’Conner — I wouldn’t have been able to go to college with confidence in my abilities and the assurance that my parents wouldn’t have to worry about helping me afford it,” she said.

Now she’s a data analyst at StepStone Global, a finance company in downtown Cleveland. And she’s pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration at Cleveland State University, taking three night classes a semester after her 9-to-5 job.

Her advice for first-generation English speakers is simple:

“It’s okay to make a fool of yourself sometimes. Own up to it.”

“Till this day, I mess up my English saying embarrassing things. Once I was supposed to say to my colleagues, ‘Those hoses are heavy,’ but because of my accent I ended saying ‘Those hoes are heavy.’” 

“You can only get better if you keep practicing,” she said.

The post ESL Speaker Turns Finance Whiz appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

2018: The Year Millennials Stormed the Midterms

January 1, 2019 - 8:00am

The 2018 midterm election was one for the books.

This November, a groundbreaking number of younger voters came out to the polls. Almost a third of eligible young people ages 18-30 voted in the midterms, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. While that’s still less than the 46 percent of eligible young people who voted in the 2016 presidential election, that number is a staggering increase compared to just 21 percent in the 2014 midterm.  

Not only were there more young voters in the 2018 election, more young people were elected to office as well, according to the Pew Research Center. More than a fifth of the House’s 91 freshmen members-elect are millennials, which Pew categorizes as people born between the years 1981 and 1996. These new millennial Congress members include rising stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who at 29 is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

This year YR Media tracked the campaigns of a number young candidates on the election trail. Here’s how some of their races turned out (ages below represent how old a candidate was at the time of the election):

Kalan Haywood)

Kalan Haywood, 19 (Wisconsin State Assembly):

  • Ran unopposed and won.

Haywood spoke to YR Media shortly before the election and said one of the key issues he will address is poverty and access to education.

Will Haskell, 22, won a seat on the Connecticut State Senate.
(Photo: Dan Bigelow)

Will Haskell, 22 (Connecticut State Senate):

  • Won 53 percent of the vote to beat incumbent Toni Boucher, who had been in Congress for as long as Haskell has been alive.

Haskell is no stranger to politics and was working with his state congressman before he was old enough to drive. He encourages other young people to consider politics: “We’re a perspective that needs to be heard from.”

Eighteen-year-old Aasim Yahya ran for the California State Assembly, District 14. (Photo courtesy of Aasim Yahya)

Aasim Yahya, 18 (California State Assembly):

  • Lost but still earned 27 percent of the vote in an intra-party race.

Yahya told YR Media “the decisions being made now are not necessarily going to affect somebody who is 65 years of age and older. They’re going to impact my generation — the 18-year-olds and the 24-year-olds today.” 

Brandon Nelson, 21 (California State Assembly)

  • Lost his race 26.8 to 73.2 percent.
  • Ran as a Libertarian against a Democratic incumbent.

Morgan Murtaugh, 26 (California 53rd Congressional District)

  • Lost her race 33.9 to 66.11 percent.
  • Ran as a Republican against a Democratic incumbent.
Aisha Yaqoob, center. (Photo courtesy of The Campaign to Elect Aisha)

Aisha Yaqoob, 25 (Georgia House of Representatives):

  • Lost her race, 44 to 56 percent.

Yaqoob ran on a platform advocating for civil and immigrant rights and reforming Georgia’s HOPE scholarship.

Lalita Etwaroo, 26 (New York State Assembly)

  • Lost her race 8.2 to 91.7 percent.
  • Ran as a Republican against a Democratic incumbent
Morgan Zegers was a candidate for the New York State Assembly.
(Photo: Alyssa McClenning)

Morgan Zegers, 21 (New York State Assembly):

  • Lost her race 44 to 57 percent.
  • A small business owner, Zegers told us “the problem for me being a young Republican woman is I get asked to do a lot of interviews to talk about my campaign and instead they want to talk about national issues. … It’s my job to kind of redirect the conversation to my campaign, and I’ve had to learn that the hard way.

Hadiya Afzal (Dupage, Illinois, County Board)

  • Came in fourth in a four-way race with 21.3 percent of the vote.
  • Top vote-getter only got 28.3 percent of the vote.

Check out even more of YR Media’s Election 2018 coverage.

The post 2018: The Year Millennials Stormed the Midterms appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

ASMR Changed This Twitch Streamer’s Life

December 31, 2018 - 8:00am

For years, Twitch.tv, the live-streaming platform most famously used by gamers, has slowly become home to an increasingly large community of ASMR enthusiasts.

A viral video of rapper Cardi B whispering, purring and caressing various objects close to two microphones made the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in 2018. For many viewers, the video was their first introduction to ASMR, the wildly popular internet trend of using mouth sounds and other audio to inspire a physical response in listeners.

“ASMR seriously reignited my faith in humanity. I know it’s crazy to say, but it’s true,” said Twitch streamer Mary J. Lee, who goes by @MaryJLeeee, or just Mary, in an interview with YR Media.

Lee said she first gained a following on Twitch while she was studying to become a dental hygienist in New Jersey. She had experimented with live-streaming beforehand, but the world of ASMR was still very new to her.

Watch live video from MaryJLeeee on www.twitch.tv

“I am very, very normie. I never knew about stuff like this. And at first glance, I was like, ‘This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen,’” she said.

She even admits to have believed what she now sees as a common misconception about the genre: “Seeing girls massaging microphones shaped like ears looks like a fetish. It’s true. At first glance, I thought that’s what it was.”

Now, she live-streams ASMR content on Twitch six days a week, has more than 3,000 paying subscribers, and released her first ASMR album.

“What ASMR means to me is different than what I think most people think of it. Lots of the people that come into my stream struggle with insomnia or anxiety, and my channel is the only thing that helps them sleep. …There are lots of styles, but I always focus on slow, rhythmic sounds,” she explained.

She said her viewers come from all walks of life, and she regularly hears from fans that watch her stream with their young children. For this reason, she takes extra care to ensure that the stream is PG-rated, and works to rebut the fetishization of ASMR.

“You wouldn’t let a stranger whisper in your ear, so what’s happening is inherently intimate,” she explained. “But people confuse the intimacy with sexual-ness. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

“Some ASMR streams are for an adult audience, but I really try to make sure there’s that line of professionalism, even though I’m very close with my audience.”

Anyone’s who’s spent a significant amount of time watching a woman play video games on Twitch has likely witnessed the platform’s rampant sexual harassment problem in the live chat feature. The harassment is often so common that many women streamers employ moderators, automated bots and keyword filters to deter bad behavior in the chat.

The same is true in the site’s ASMR category. However, unlike in gaming, the vast majority of ASMR streamers are women, which Lee said drastically alters the dynamic between creators and viewers.

“ASMR is probably the safest community on Twitch,” she said. “People say your chat is a reflection of yourself, which I think is sort of true, but the ASMR community is one of the kindest, most wholesome groups of people I’ve ever met.”

In fact, Lee said that the chat, combined with her unique relationship with the audience, is really what keeps her feeling inspired.

“It’s grown to such a crazy scale, and I think it’s because the community is so strong,” she said. “I have so many people around me that support me. It’s been amazing, really. It’s honestly been a dream come true.”

When asked about her goals for the future, Lee said she hopes to bring ASMR into the mainstream, and that videos like the one of Cardi B are helping to shed light on the genre.

“I’m so interested in seeing where ASMR is going to go. I really hope it can be more than just a fad. It’s something that I never would have thought that I’d do, and I know it can really help people,” she said.

“My ultimate mission with ASMR is to help special needs children manage sound under / over-sensitivity. [sic] & sensory overload,” Lee wrote in her Twitch profile.

And as for live-streaming in general, Lee said the trend has barely begun.

“It’s so cool that Twitch offers people a way to follow their dreams and make money doing it. I’ve changed so much in the last year,” she said. “I’m making more money than I would have done doing dental hygiene. … And I have a purpose. To be able to use my stream in a way that I can help people is extraordinary.”

The post ASMR Changed This Twitch Streamer’s Life appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Being the Token Girl in the Weight Room

December 30, 2018 - 8:00am

This year, I became a weightlifter. Sure, it made me stronger. But walking into a gym full of men also pushed me to strengthen my confidence.

Every year, I learn a new skill that’s outside of my comfort zone. It started with ukulele, then skateboarding, even beatboxing.

This past summer, I set my mind on weightlifting. I spent an hour each day working out. Soon, I went from barely completing a push-up to doing several pull-ups. 

Then, one day, I went to the gym with classmates. It didn’t surprise me that I was the only girl there. The room was dominated by shouting and weights clanking on metal racks. I felt fragile. 

I felt like the odd girl out in this hypermasculine atmosphere. I wondered if I should have instead focused on being lean—like every female model I see. 

As I was lifting dumbells, one of my classmates shouted: “Woah, Sarah is actually strong.”

Going to the gym is supposed to be straightforward–something anyone could benefit from. But it isn’t the same for many girls. Unlike the men there, I had to push away female expectations with every weight I lifted.

The post Being the Token Girl in the Weight Room appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Plastic Straw Ban Good for NYU Student Business

December 29, 2018 - 8:00am

Last summer, nearly a year before San Francisco became the first city to ban plastic straws, New York University student Antonio DiMeglio had dinner at the Jersey Shore restaurant Labrador Lounge with his family.

When DiMeglio sat down, he noticed a sign on the wall about the restaurant’s “plastic straw policy.” The sign explained that the lounge was concerned about ocean pollution and thus “was only serving plastic straws upon request.”  

“I was so shocked I took a photo,” DiMeglio said.

The Labrador Lounge plastic straw policy. (Photo: Antonio DiMeglio)

“Although I grew up going to the beach every other weekend since I lived nearby, this was the first time I saw a small business taking a stance to protect the ocean that was just a few blocks away.”

Months later, DiMeglio couldn’t stop thinking about it. And naturally,  since he was studying Sustainable Business, he developed the idea for what is now Seastraws, the first student-run compostable straw company.

“The initial idea came to me in March 2018,” DiMeglio said. “By summer 2018, Seastraws was already three or four months old and I already recruited other students to get on board. We had our product being manufactured by May and our first sales in June.”

“You could say we got really lucky with the timing,” he added.

While news of California’s straw ban went viral, staff at NYU’s Office of Sustainability (NYUOS) mulled over the prospect of instituting a similar ban on campus, according to Sophie Kenney, 20, who now works for both NYUOS and Seastraws.

“One of the problems NYU officials had when deliberating on whether to ban plastic straws was the issue of supply. Where would NYU get all the compostable or reusable straws from?” Kennedy said.

Luckily, NYU found an answer in its own backyard. On September 26, NYU quietly announced their move to eliminate plastic straws in dining halls. By October, Seastraws cut its biggest deal yet, to supply a semester’s worth of compostable straws to NYU.

“It was a dream come true for my team and I,” DiMeglio said. “I had to pinch myself because in real life dreams don’t always become true no matter how hard you work for them.”

While DiMeglio couldn’t divulge how many straws NYU purchased, he did refer to the NYU press release, which notes that the plastic straw ban “will mean 1,140,000 fewer plastic straws in the waste stream annually.”

Going forward, DiMeglio and his team hope to expand to other colleges.

But while they wait, they already have more than 40 restaurants in the Greater New York area that have jumped on board: Ruby’s Cafe in lower Manhattan, the Italian restaurant Locanda Verde, and Michael’s, just one block away from the Museum of Modern Art.

“We’re having slow success, but only NYU has committed to using compostable straws as far as I know. … We definitely want to partner with more universities,” he said. 

You can more about SeaStraws here and follow the business on Instagram.

The post Plastic Straw Ban Good for NYU Student Business appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Playlist: Healthy Nostalgia

December 28, 2018 - 8:00am

Being in LA now I am reminded of the first time I really got into rap/hip hop. I of course always had a surface-level connection with liking the music, but I didn’t get motivated to seek out knowledge about it until one day when coming back from the beach with my cousins here in LA, and they started playing Biggie’s Life After Death. When I heard those stories being told I was hooked. Ever since then, hearing old hip hop and rap songs that I used to be into throws me into a sense of nostalgia. Here’s some of the tracks that awaken my memories.

Q-Tip – You

I grew up around a lot of Tribe and Q-Tip was always my favorite. I remember staring at his album cover while this song was blasting and just thinking it’s so dope that he made his own beats

Les Nubians – Makeda

I actually just recently discovered this track but it fits right in with all this music resurfacing in my life.

Res – Golden Boys

I remember hearing this track by Res for the first time with my mom, and this memory of us listening to it in the car together runs through my head.

Reflection Eternal – Memories Live

My cousins put me onto Reflection Eternal really young because they were obsessed with the likes of Talib Kweli and Mos Def. This album stays in my rotation to this day.

Slum Village – Climax (Girl Shit)

Dilla became a big focus of mine when I started making beats, and so naturally Slum Village followed, this song is beautiful and will hold its own forever to me.

Digable Planets – Jimmi Diggin’ Cats

This track always had one of my favorite beats ever. Digable Planets was a fiery trio back in the day and they all had mad talent, definitely inspired me in a lot of ways.

Mos Def – The Panties

One of my favorite songs of all time, Mos Def was someone I grew up on, memories of me being alone as a kid slapping this, or even now as an adult driving around to this at like 2 AM in LA after getting off work.

Quasimoto – Am I Confused ( ft. Madlib)

Madlib is such an icon he featured himself under his alter ego, and it’s crazy good.

2Pac – Do For Love

My favorite 2Pac song and this still resonates with me as much as it did the first time I heard it at school when I was younger.

Hieroglyphics – Make Your Move

This track reminds me so much of home it’s crazy. Growing up this was ALWAYS playing. Oakland’s got a lot of history and Hieroglyphics is definitely a large part of it. Not to mention Goapele’s beautiful vocals.

This list throws me back with each song, experiencing the vivid memories of growing up and first experiencing each track. Music has this wonderful ability to transport us to different time periods. Make sure you keep the songs that represent things you care about close to you, because they will always be a part of you. Memories that we hold dear are always a window into our past selves.

The post Playlist: Healthy Nostalgia appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Reporting on Family Separation at the Border – A Look Back

December 28, 2018 - 8:00am

Over the summer I had the opportunity of any youth reporter’s lifetime: getting flown out to cover a national story that the entire country (even my friends) were talking about. But, sadly, I wasn’t discussing any good news.

In the middle of El Paso, Texas, right on the border of the United States and Mexico, my job was to cover the family separation crisis and how it affected local communities. At the height of the crisis, thousands of children were separated from their families because of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy toward illegal border crossings.

Youth Radio reporter Billy Cruz [right] interviews Antonio Villaseñor-Baca in a parking lot that overlooks the US-Mexico border. Photo: Denise Tejada/YR Media.

While the practice has been halted because of court rulings, some children still haven’t been reunited with their parents.

Seeing El Paso

I had never been to El Paso, or Texas at all, but I definitely want to go back. El Paso is such a unique place that I wish nothing but the absolute best for.

The city is surrounded by a beautiful auburn desert with warm air that even at night time covers your body like a blanket. At the center of that are these department stores and chain restaurants that stand high and mighty like ancient Roman edifices, bursting with unparalleled color and light.

I remember walking around the outskirts of the University of Texas at El Paso at around sunset. As I trudged along a scenic route, I remember becoming overwhelmed and in sheer awe of both the astonishingly large mountain range surrounding El Paso, and the gloriously well lit Whataburger standing right in front of me. The contrast looked almost purposeful as if the entire region was crafted by an artist.

A divided community, just not how you think…

El Paso is a city shaped by its location along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Not only is the city culturally diverse with a large Hispanic/Latino community, but many citizens of its sister city in Mexico, Ciudad Juárez, cross the border every day as part of their commute for work or school.

It was ironic to me how big of a deal our nation (and our current president) puts on crossing the border, while so many people have been doing it daily for years.

One of the young locals I met was another youth reporter named Antonio Villaseñor-Baca. When we met he told me about how misunderstood life on the U.S.-Mexico border is, and how people outside the community, even outside the state, are creating a now tense and hostile environment for El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. He described how crossing takes longer and is more intimidating than ever.

I followed up with him this month to see if that hostility and uneasiness has lessened as more families have been reunited, but Antonio explained, “Things are more tense here, but it has a lot to do with that caravan and how [US Customs and Border Protection Agency] reacted to it.”

As the effects of one crisis seem to finally be wearing off these border communities, new days are bringing about new obstacles.

The family separation crisis that was, and is

After a week of visiting migrant shelters, and meeting with the people that work and live in them, I realized how normalized this crisis was to the people living in it.

Mothers would cook meals and go about everyday life while casually wearing ankle bracelets to monitor their location. A 14-year-old boy from Brazil learned to say curse words in Hindu because of the different cultures being held in detention centers.

What was so crazy to me was that while this was a national issue that the president himself was constantly tweeting about, life went on for the undocumented people experiencing these awful circumstances. It was simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring to witness.

I remember seeing a large group of undocumented migrants that were separated from their children get off a Homeland Security bus and enter a migrant shelter. They looked terrified, worn out and as if they had been put through a washing machine. I felt so uncomfortable just standing, watching these people suffer, knowing I couldn’t do anything at that moment to make their lives better. And I felt really bad for missing my parents, because I went to El Paso by choice.

More stories to tell

While I boarded the plane home feeling accomplished in my writing and my journalism, I felt like there was so much more work that needed to be done on the border that I couldn’t do. There are so many stories that needed to be heard and shared that I didn’t complete. And there are so many questions I still have. But I hope that the reporting I did, and the stories I was able to share, give an honest and accurate glimpse at what was going on down there during this wild time.

Here are the stories YR Media told this summer from El Paso, and all our immigration coverage.

The post Reporting on Family Separation at the Border – A Look Back appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How To: Plan Your Own Event

December 27, 2018 - 8:00am
So you’ve probably been to some type of function in your lifetime. Whether it was a crackin’ concert, party, or art show. You had a great time, made some new homies and maybe you’ve thought of planning something similar. For those who live for moments like these and want to incorporate these moments into other people’s lives, here are a couple of pointers to get your event rolling. Follow these basic guidelines and your event should be as smooth as possible.

The first step to get an event going is to figure out the purpose of the event. Is it because you are looking to make money? Do you want to display art, musical artists, poetry, etc? Or, are you just trying to put on for your community? These are all questions that an event planner should be thinking about before trying to organize an event. Having a specific purpose for an event will help distinguish what type of event it is and how to cater to that specific kind of event.

Build a Team

When planning events, a reliable team is necessary. A small team is highly recommended as it dissolves conflicts and minimizes altercations. Make sure you surround yourself with people you can trust! Outside of the main team, having volunteers, partnerships or paid positions is okay. However, all business-related matters should stay between the organizers. Responsibilities should be distributed among different members of the team. Someone could be in charge of obtaining the venues and artists, another should be in charge of budgeting, while other responsibilities can include: marketing, contracting, and sponsorships.


Between these different branches, communication is key. Each member should be up to date so there is no confusion on what is going on. Good communication between each other is key for the success of the event, it will boost productivity, help with event preparation and even relieve stress! When a team lacks communication it reflects on the business. Lack of communication leads to unmet deadlines and lack of productivity. Not only do you get dissatisfied co-workers, but you will also have dissatisfied customers. For customers, it’s easy to tell when a team is not running the show correctly. Lack of communication is bad for business, it creates negative working habits and it will show in the quality of the event you put on.

Photo: Steady Parties Location and Time

Whether it’s an art show, panel or just a social gathering, the ideal event should take place during the afternoon or evening. People with day jobs generally get off by that time and people are more likely to go out at night. However on weekends, summer and spring breaks, a day party is highly recommended. For pure functions the ideal timing would be at night. Not all young folks are comfortable to go dumb in broad daylight because they are usually more active during the night time. When the sun goes down, insecurities are lowered and everyone is ready to have a good time and people are generally more social as well.

Photo: Steady Parties

The location of the event can have a major impact on its success. You must consider how far the event is from where the majority of attendees are coming from. A distance that allows for a reasonably priced Uber ride is highly recommended. You don’t want people driving to a function. Depending on the type of event, the start time should be appropriate to match the crowd and energy. Also keep in mind the features of the venue. What is the max capacity? Or the vibe the space gives off? Overall, is the venue suitable for your event? You want to make sure your audience is having the best experience possible. If you are charging, does the price of the venue fit your budget? Will you be able to make a reasonable profit? And most of all, is the space safe? You do not want any accidents or any major injuries on your hands. In fact, if you think a lot of people are coming, it could be a good idea to invest in event insurance–better to be safe than sorry.

Pick a Date

When it comes to picking the perfect date for your event, it is crucial that that you keep in mind the variables that could really affect the outcome. Variables such as holidays can boost the number of participants. Everyone may have a whole week of work off, plus everyone will be in the holiday spirit. However, for some holidays people may want to spend time with their families, so plan accordingly. Lots of people might go visit out-of-town family members. Good dates would be a couple days leading up to the holiday or a couple days after when the holiday spirit isn’t all the way gone. Make sure there are not many events on the same day as yours. And if there are, your event better be the one everyone is planning on going to. Otherwise, you’ll have heavy competition and will lose attendance.


Security is a must. The safety of your peers is always more important than having a good time. People can be reckless and there are people out there looking for trouble. No exceptions, get security. Security is helpful for crowd and line control. Once you get to the level when you have lines out the door, security will be able to control the crowd, and keep them from causing a traffic hazard. They also help control underage drinking.  Underage drinking and open bottles are some of the main reasons all-ages events get shut down. They’re also trained to pat people down so that everyone in the area is safe. When a fight breaks out, your security should be the ones that stop it and kick the troublemakers out and away from the premises.

Photo: Steady Parties Marketing

Promotion should start at least 2 weeks ahead of the event, however, a month in advance is highly recommended. Flyers, graphics, and video content are all good promotional material. A flyer can make or break you. If the flyer looks boring then the audience you’re trying to reach will think it’s boring. If the flyer is poppin’, then the flyer will gain more attention and will be memorable. People will also be more likely to share. Make sure to put ALL relevant information on the flyer, however, keep the text nice and simple. Nobody wants to read a lot when looking at flyer. Lastly, have everybody and they momma post the flyer. The more people see it, the more people will arrive!! Promotional material like videos, articles, and photos should all be used. The more your brand is embedded in someone’s mind, the more interactions you will receive. That’s the main goal of marketing. You want as many people talking about your brand as possible.


Collaborating with others is a easy way to increase attendance at your events. Collaborating with or booking artists allows you to gain attention from a larger crowd of potential attendees. It creates diversity and widens your audience. This also applies to other collectives, sponsors, and partners. By collaborating you are building relationships and building a bigger market for yourself. These collaborations can also be turned into relationships; as the artists grow, you may grow with them. As an event organizer you’ll be the one they call on. In this game it’s all about connections, and those connections are what’s going to take you to the top.

Photo: Steady Parties Run of Show

For pure party functions performances should be kept minimal, but if you want to put your homie on go ahead but if the crowd isn’t a majority homies, expect some backlash. Some people aren’t open to listening to new music while at functions. However, if you have one headliner and maybe two performances before that you should be ok. Just make sure performances don’t go over 10 minutes.

For parties, keeping the music rolling is the most important thing you can do. Dead space at a party is super awkward and people will start making their way to the door. Try to save your hyphy music towards the end of the function. If everyone gets hyped up at the beginning of the event they will just to want to keep on going up. It is hard to come back from that. It is the DJ’s job to control the vibe of the party. Gradually build the energy up to its climax. This way, you don’t run out of music and the environment is controlled.

Photo: Steady Parties

Towards the end of the function it is important that you gradually calm your audience down. You don’t want your crowd causing trouble outside of your event because they are still all hyped up. End the night with some throwbacks or some slow jams. Something people will still be able to dance to but vibe out as well. By doing this you create a safe place for people to get home.


When it comes to booking the venue you must consider how many tickets you’ll have to sell in order to make your money back (if you are hoping to charge.) For example, if the venue costs $500 for the night, a $10 ticket would be a good price to make your money back and make profit off the event. All you need to do is have 50 or more people slide through and you are good. The ticket price all depends on how many people you can bring in, and how much the venue costs. Also keep in mind all the other expenses that may pop up. Keeping track of your spending is very important: you’ll be less likely to lose money, figure out where money is needed, and figure out how to save.

During the event have someone you trust be in charge of the money. Preferably someone who is able to really handle themselves. Someone who is able to say no when they need to. Throughout the event the person in charge of the money should be emptying it into a safe place almost once or twice during the night. People are always watching and if the money gets into the wrong hands at least you’ll have money in a safe place. It is not safe to have a lot money in one place the whole night.

The post How To: Plan Your Own Event appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

2018’s Livestream Drama Could Be a Taste of What’s to Come

December 27, 2018 - 8:00am

2018 has been an absolutely monumental year for the livestreaming community online, thanks to the rise in popularity of platforms like Twitch, Mixer, Instagram Live and so many more.

And while these platforms and more have been expanding rapidly in order to compete for a new generation of livestream viewers, the personalities and communities at the center of the genre are the ones being affected by an unprecedented and daunting shift in internet culture.  

From competitive gamers like Michael “shroud” Grzesiek and Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, to the outdoorsy IRL (“in real life”) channels like EXBC, the most successful broadcasters of every stripe know that the unpredictability of a live, unscripted performance is a large part of what differentiates their work from more mainstream content on YouTube and social media.

In many cases, the anticipation associated with watching a game unfold on stream can be vital in the creator’s effort to establish the expectation that “every moment could be the moment,” as Marcus Graham, Director of Twitch Studios, puts it.

At the same time, what really sets the livestream world apart from every other corner of the internet is an exaggerated version of what every social media platform has been promising its users for decades: human connection, on demand.

As a viewer, watching a livestream might feel similar to chatting with a friend via Discord or Facetime. The user’s ability to virtually socialize and bond in real time with interesting people doing interesting things is an undeniably appealing selling point for every livestreaming platform.

But for the streamer, the experience is actually much more akin to that of an actor performing a routine in front of a live audience. Because livestreams often feel more intimate to the viewer than they are, streamers are regularly expected to entertain and genuinely connect with many viewers at a time, while also maintaining their personal health, safety and sanity.

Much of the drama that emerged from the livestream world this year stemmed from this dilemma, when prominent streamers said or did something that broke the illusion of intimacy and transparency with their audience members.

One particularly memorable incident erupted back in October, when Fortnite player Imane “Pokimane” Anys went live on Twitch without makeup on, and a series of screenshots comparing her “normal” look to the natural one became an instant meme on Twitter and Reddit.

In the days that followed, the meme and many viewers insinuated that Pokimane had been deceiving them about her appearance by wearing makeup on stream, and expressed feeling “betrayed” by her “deception.”

But Pokimane said she hadn’t intended to deceive anyone by simply wearing makeup. In fact, she said she decided to go bare-faced on stream to bring attention to the unrealistic standards of beauty that are often thrust upon women streamers. But because she had broken the illusion of constant transparency with her viewers by revealing a less-than-glamorous aspect of her off-camera life, she was ridiculed and publicly mocked.

On the other hand, many supporters and others streamers came out in support of Pokimane, and she didn’t seem too bothered by all the criticism.

man am I lucky to have real friends who love me for who I am

I’m at peace with myself, my body & my imperfections – and I wish the same someday for anyone who feels the need to hate on someone else for such shallow reasons.

— pokimane (@pokimanelol) October 23, 2018

Throughout 2018, several streamers ran into controversy.

Most memorably, streaming megastar Ninja — whose team-up with rapper Drake helped make Fortnite streaming a mainstream phenomenon — revealed in an interview that he refuses to play video games with women on Twitch because he’s worried his fans would start rumors about whether he’s romantically involved with them. “The only way to avoid that is to not play with them at all,” he told Polygon reporters back in August.

Ninja’s controversial policy inspired widespread blowback across social media in the days that followed, much of which resulted in heated debates about the inclusion of women in gaming.

In a similarly shocking incident at Twitchcon in October, one streamer told a room full of people that he had no interest in connecting with his viewers, because he sees himself as “better” and “bigger” than them. After realizing what he had said, Michael “mmDust” Duarte (who has under 12,000 followers as of this writing) justified his indifference to his fans by saying he has a “God complex.”

Both Ninja and mmDust clearly offended lots of people with their comments, but both incidents — along with the Pokimane drama — point to one of the worst problems facing the livestreaming community today:

The bigger your audience gets, the harder it might be to please them – and audiences can be incredibly demanding. And not all livestreamers are ready for the limelight. So it’s not hard to imagine there will be more controversies to come in 2019.

The post 2018’s Livestream Drama Could Be a Taste of What’s to Come appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

One Year Into #MeToo: What’s Changed for Teen Girls?

December 26, 2018 - 1:55am

It’s been just over a year since high-profile actresses Salma Hayek, Asia Argento, Gwyneth Paltrow and more than a dozen other women rocked Hollywood—and the nation—when they came forward as survivors of sexual assault and harassment and made allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Soon, the #MeToo movement—a term coined over a decade ago by the activist Tarana Burke—swept through one industry after another, such as hotels, food service, even airport security.

But how is the #MeToo movement affecting teen girls? A group of YR Media’s reporters held a roundtable to discuss the language they use around emotional intimacy and sex. Here’s a conversation between Ivelisse Diaz, Sarah Ng, and Valencia White.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

On going out

ID: When you leave the house without your parents, what kinds of things do you watch out for simply because of your gender?

VW: If I tell my parents I’m going to a party or something, they’ll always just tell me to make good choices. I don’t really talk about boys much, but they just want me to be safe. They want me to be able to make decisions while sober, because I could be taken advantage of.

ID: My parents always say, “Are there going to be any boys there? You have to be careful.” I think that they don’t trust the stereotypical guy and they’re not sure if any of the guys around me fit that stereotype.

SN: I think when it comes down to parties, I think we’ve built enough trust for them to know that I’m not going to do something really stupid.

On the language used to describe sex

ID: What conversations have you had about sex with your parents?

VW: The extent to which my parents and I have talked about sex is consent.

ID: It’s hard to talk to your parents about those things because sex is a touchy subject. I do think that the standards [are] different [for] guys and girls. Girls have to be more careful and consider so many things, while the guy only has to consider himself.

SN: Having a lot of sex is considered masculine [for guys], which I think is terrible because, on the flip side, girls [are] considered whores. Men’s sexualities are praised and women’s sexualities are shamed.

ID: I’ve had some friends open up to me and tell me about their sex lives, and it’s really nerve wracking for them to talk about it in front of other people. I can tell they’re very picky in who they choose to talk about it with. Girls get so nervous and afraid of being judged.

ID: For women, if you have too much sex you’re a ho, and if you don’t have any then you’re a prude.

On sex ed

VW: My sex ed experience was actually really good, because I went to a charter school. Now, the way I see consent is—if you ask someone, “Do you want to have sex?” and they say, “I don’t know”—then that’s not a yes. If you need to ask them a couple times, or if they’re drunk, it’s a no. If it’s anything but a “yes, I want to have sex,” then it is a no.

ID: I go to public school, and we had to take sex ed. During sex ed, I noticed that other girls were all really calm about the topic, just like me. But the guys were making a big deal out of a lot of the topics we covered. It was just weird to actually see the difference between how guys approached sex in general, versus how the girls around me did.

On the language boys use around sex

ID: So I know this is really heteronormative, but what have you heard among your friends about how boys describe sex with girls?

SN: It sounds like “guy talk” when it comes from guys.

VW: People say things like, “How many bodies do you have?”—which basically asks how many people they’ve had sex with. People say things like, “Oh I was in those cheeks, I was beating those cheeks.” Oh gosh, it’s so bad.

ID: It’s like another language. You don’t ever hear a guy go, “I’m trying to make her feel good,” or “I’m trying to make her happy.” It’s more like, “I want to hook up with her, I’m trying to smash.” Kind of like saying, “I want to go pick out that toy.”

VW: I think with guys, it’s like bragging, so they mention consent less. They’ll just say “I’d f**k” her,” or like, “Oh, I tore up that p***y,” or something like that.

On the lessons learned from Kavanaugh

ID: What does the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court mean to you or girls anywhere?

VW: It shows that people can get away with sexual assault. That’s just so disgusting to me, because I don’t want someone who has committed sexual assault to be making my laws. And I don’t want them to tell me what I can and can’t do with my body.

ID: It tells me that men can shut women up and that men won’t get their deserved consequences. If a man like himself could have power in the Supreme Court through all of his unprofessionalism, it means that no matter what, the white man wins.

SN: It would basically tell every single person who has come forward that their stories don’t matter. The fact that he was even considered after all of the hearings is infuriating. It should’ve been an open-and-shut case.

ID: That hearing was an interview for his job. You don’t cry during an interview and you don’t yell at the person interviewing you. So, I just can’t believe that it happened.

VW: This is more proof that we need to educate boys and even women about consent and what is acceptable behavior. People shouldn’t have to be worried about something they did 30 years ago because they shouldn’t have done anything to begin with.

SN: Yeah. There’s no excuse behind it. You can’t just say, “Boys will be boys.” 

The post One Year Into #MeToo: What’s Changed for Teen Girls? appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Playlist: Nu Music

December 25, 2018 - 8:00am

Towards the end of the year with holidays approaching, I thought that the artists I follow would slow their roll and wait to release projects until next year. Thankfully, that has not been the case and we have been blessed with a healthy stream of new music from some talented people. Here’s a list of recent tracks!

Anderson .Paak – Who R U?

Gearing up for a new album, .Paak dropped a fire track to get us ready.

Earl Sweatshirt – Nowhere2go

To this day, I still listen to Earl’s last album, so him dropping new music is like icing on the cake.

Little Dragon – In My House

Everything Little Dragon makes is awesome as all hell so definitely tune in whenever they release new music.

Amir Obé – Famous

Sad R&B dude Amir Obé makes a good track!

Leikeli47 – CIAA

Leikeli47 is one of the best female rappers out right now and I love the fact that she’s being diverse with her music’s genres/styles.

Rosalía – MALAMENTE (Cap.1: Augurio)

Rosalía is bringing some awesome flamenco fusion music to the mainstream and it’s a really great listen.

A.CHAL ft. Darell – LA DUEÑA

A.CHAL has been making some slaps for the past few years and I hope he comes out with more.

Vince Staples -Run the Bands

NEW VINCE STAPLES. All I gotta say.

Smino ft. Valee – KRUSHED ICE

This is the collab I always wanted but never knew I needed. Smino’s whole new album is a must-slap.

Christian Rich, Little Dragon, Vic Mensa -DRIPPING SUMMERS

I really don’t know how this track slipped through my radar but it’s more Little Dragon for my soul.

I hope I was able to put you onto something new to enjoy into the new year, always keep an eye out for new genres and artists! People are always releasing things, but to find some new music you gotta swim through a lot of randoms. It’s always worth it, though.

The post Playlist: Nu Music appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

He Walked Almost 20 Miles to His New Job. Here’s Where Walter Carr is Now.

December 24, 2018 - 8:00am

When an Alabama college student’s car broke down the night before he was slated to start a new job, he didn’t panic. With only $20 in cash to his name, “not enough to call an Uber,” he decided he would walk. So he did.

Walter Carr, 20, trekked 14 miles before he was flagged by police at 4 a.m.

As a young African American man, he was scared. But after telling the officers about his situation, he realized he was “sent a blessing,” he said in a phone interview with YR Media. The officers got him breakfast, then drove him to his first day of work for Bellhops moving company.

At about 6:30 a.m, the police knocked on the door of Jenny and Chris Lamey, who had hired a crew from Bellhops to help them move out of their old home. As Jenny Lamey wrote in a Facebook status that racked up thousands of shares:

“[The police officer] proceeded to tell us that he had picked up ‘this nice kid’ in Pelham early this morning. The nice kid, Walter, said that he was supposed to help us with our move today.

“He WALKED ALL NIGHT to get from Homewood to Pelham. Because he needed to get to work. For those reading this that are not local, that’s over 20 miles,” Lamey wrote.

By the end of that hot July day, Walter Carr made international news. His story was picked up by dozens of news outlets: The Washington Post, CBS News, USA Today, Fox News, Inside Edition, CNN and more. A GoFundMe was set up. TV appearances were made.

But Carr — who’s been attending Lawson State Community College — said he is so much more than the “kid who tried to walk 20 miles.” He’s the first person in his family to attend college, and hopes to become an occupational therapist.

Though he hasn’t applied to transfer to a four-year school yet, Carr has his eyes set on Alabama State University, a historically black college that offers a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy.

“I just wanna help people with health problems. I’m privileged to be able to help all types of people, from sports players to the elderly, to people who wanna get in shape: I want to help whoever needs me,” he said.

Carr has dreamed of becoming an occupational therapist since high school.

“I played all the sports except for track. I never got injured, but a lot of my friends did. Muscle sprains. Joint problems. And I saw how bad that was. So I figured that I wanted to go into a field where I could help athletes recover after injury.”

In the meantime, Carr continues to work for Bellhops, whose CEO was so inspired by Carr’s perseverance that he donated his own car to him. Carr has completed 30 moves so far, and has no intention of stopping anytime soon.

“I am honestly blown away by him. Everything Walter Carr did his first day of work is exactly who we are — heart and grit. So far, he’s batting 1,000,” Luke Marklin, CEO of Bellhops, told YR Media.

He’s also given a half-dozen speeches at local schools and churches. “God didn’t put us on this earth for things to be impossible,” he tells kids. “Can’t nobody defeat you but yourself.”

Going forward, Carr hopes that other young people don’t get discouraged. Before he was hired at Bellhops, he says he applied to “dozens of jobs” but didn’t hear back from any.

“God put us in these situations not because he knew we couldn’t get through them, but because he knows we can prevail. At the end of the day, if you work hard, you’ll come out with a great blessing,” he said.

The post He Walked Almost 20 Miles to His New Job. Here’s Where Walter Carr is Now. appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How Talking About Mental Health Helped Me Heal

December 23, 2018 - 8:00am

I’ve been seeing a therapist for almost a year now, and I’m not afraid to admit it. Part of my healing has come from being open.

Sophomore year was tough for me. Depression impacted my life. Getting up every morning felt like an impossible task. I cried every day, and didn’t want to go to school. It became too much to handle so I told my parents. They were very supportive and I started therapy right away.

It took a couple of months to see the results, but when I did—as cheesy as it sounds—I started to love myself more.

Still, I dealt with depression privately. I kept my therapy sessions to myself to avoid judgments from my friends. I didn’t want to face the stigma surrounding mental health.

But one day, I got the courage to tell my friends and to my surprise they were very supportive. Once I opened up, my friends felt free to share their own struggles with mental health. I feel validated. I’m not the only one that’s going through this.

By talking with each other we’ve created a deeper trust between us and a support system that wasn’t there before.

The post How Talking About Mental Health Helped Me Heal appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Foster Care Veteran Helps Others Go to College

December 22, 2018 - 8:00am

When it comes to college, Elexus Hunter beat the odds, and now she’s paying her good luck forward.

Hunter, 24,  grew up in a single-parent household in San Francisco until she was taken into foster care when she was 16, which she said was a “blessing.”

“It was hard maneuvering through foster care because I didn’t know who to talk to. I was battling with my own emotions: anger, fear and pain — I really felt alone. … But at least I was safe,” Hunter said.

Hunter finished high school while in foster care, then schlepped across the country to Clark Atlanta University in Georgia, where she earned a full ride through private scholarships and federal grants.

Though Hunter was no longer in foster care, she still struggled.

“Finding housing was challenging during the holidays. … I hated the feeling of being homeless,” she said, echoing a common issue that former foster youth face.

“I’m very thankful that some people knew my situation and offered to let me stay at their home. Without their help, I would have been forced to get a room at a motel, or maybe sleep on one of the 24-hour buses,” she said.

Young adults like Hunter who spent time in foster care tend to have a hard time with college. Just 20 percent of foster youth who graduate high school enroll in college, and less than 3 percent end up graduating from a four-year institution, according to estimates by nonprofit organizations that track the issue.

Thankfully for Hunter, her hard work paid off. She graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree — becoming the first in her immediate family to do so — and eventually relocated to California, hoping to make a difference in the life of other foster care youth.

Then, using nearly all her savings, Hunter founded Tragic is Magic, a Los Angeles nonprofit that has since given more than $5,000 in scholarships to college students impacted by the foster care system.

Luz Edita Hernandez, 26, is a Tragic is Magic recipient. Hernandez immigrated to the United States with her father when she was 14. But after two years, her father had to return to Honduras, leaving her in the California foster care system alone and without any family members in the country.

Luz Edita Hernandez (Courtesy of the subject)

After she turned 18, Hernandez became homeless for a few years, living with friends when she could and on the streets when she couldn’t.

“I was sleeping in a friend’s garage for a few months,” Hernandez said. “Then I lived in a house with five other students, all of which were guys. I didn’t feel safe, so I moved out and was on the street.”

Hernandez graduated from San Francisco State University in May 2018, crediting Tragic is Magic.

“Without their support, I wouldn’t be here today, … a college student who graduated with honors,” she said. 

Nicholas Olivares, 20, is another recent scholarship recipient. A current senior at the University of California Berkeley, he learned about Tragic is Magic through another nonprofit.

Before he was awarded the scholarship, Olivares didn’t have a computer. Since he lives off campus, he had to walk 30 minutes each time he needed to use the nearest public computer or to print up a homework assignment.

With the scholarship, Olivares bought a computer and a printer, and used the remaining funds for printer ink.

“I’m deeply grateful,” Olivares stressed in a phone call with YR Media.  

Going forward, Hunter hopes to assemble a board of directors and raise more money for scholarships. She’s going at it mostly alone, but does have a few volunteers.

“It brings me joy to know that I can help youth in similar situations reach their career goals and make something of themselves. I want to touch as many youth as possible,” Hunter said.

You can learn more about Tragic is Magic on its website and contact Elexus Hunter here.

The post Foster Care Veteran Helps Others Go to College appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog