Belinda Thompson has compassion for Columbia’s underprivileged youth and identifies with surviving a hard childhood. This is one of the reasons she is passionate about volunteering at the Youth Journalisim Project, helping youth publish the bi-monthly newspaper Speak Up Be Heard. “All these kids in the class have family problems and financial issues; for them to have a place they can express themselves and be heard is important,” Belinda says.
This free class, offered through Parks and Recreation, meets at the Armory. Currently about 18-25 youth from 1st through 12th grade participate on Thursdays from 4-6pm. Five or six youth have regular features. Youth write using paper and pencil, saving their work in portfolios. “They are developing communication, social, and academic skills while having fun,” Belinda adds.
Belinda, who is currently getting a graduate degree in teaching and runs an elder business, volunteers because it is important and makes a difference.
Camren Cross, Recreation Supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Department says that Belinda’s work empowers the kids. “She’s got the kids writing, looking forward to it, and she’s getting issues out for the community.” Seeing their work in publication gives them a taste of success. “This will hopefully happen in other areas of their life as well,” Camren adds, “driving them to want bigger successes in the future.”
~Written by volunteer Theresa Nelson