CLEVELAND — A diverse group of students in Northeast Ohio is tossing on headphones and bellying up to the microphone to make sure their classmates are tuned in to what’s going on in their community.
Cleveland teenagers, or “Clenagers,” are stepping up to make sure their voices are heard.
With the mission to answer the question, “How do we get the news to kids?” Cora Young, a recent grad of Cleveland Heights High School, helped create the “Clenagers.”
“We’re teenagers, we’re telling the news to other kids, we created something from the ground up,” said Young.
The initiative, which launched in October, provides a multi-faceted platform for students from across Cleveland and its suburbs.
“They’re all from different schools in the area, kind of East Side, West Side, private school, public school,” said Shana Black.
The teens share their take on the world around them through podcasts.
“They hit the button, they start rolling the tape and the conversation just evolves,” said Black.
The team also shares information in articles on the web, videos on YouTube and on social media.
“People want to hear what Gen Z is thinking, and how do we make this world better for them? And so, these guys are telling us,” said Black.
James Carter, who just graduated from Bard High School Early College on Cleveland’s West Side, is using his time in front of the mic to try and tackle issues like social justice.
“It feels good, man. Everybody says I got a podcast voice. It’s reignited something in me. It allows me to remember that I have a voice, and remember that I’m able to use it, that’s like the big thing for me,” said Carter.
Carter is one of the many voices that facilitator Shana Black believes resonates with fellow classmates.
“They’re trusted, they know what the beat is, they know what the stories are,” said Black.
News 5 learned demand for this program is high, and right now they’re looking at ways to bring more teens from underrepresented school districts on board.
“That’s one of the things that really inspires me about this and why I can’t wait to grow more, so we can bring more kids, more people who don’t have a voice can speak,” said Young.
Carter’s family members are some of “Clenagers” biggest fans, and the way he reacts to their support sums up everything you need to know about the campaign to inform and champion Cleveland teens.
“They talk about me like I’m famous, ‘Yeah, James is doing the internet, he’s talking,’ and everybody is bigging me up and it makes me feel good,” said Carter.