Life in America, as we’ve come to know it, is changing at light speed.

Between the coronavirus, which has brought us to our knees, and the racial unrest that has shaken us to our moral core, we are witnessing in real time major change. From the bravery of our essential workers, to the failures of our old-guard leadership, to the strength and resilience of our own citizenship, we are learning what it truly means to listen to each other at the grassroots level and harness the power of working together at the community level.

But of all that is changing, there is one thing that remains the same: In the eye of this revolutionary storm and out of the shadows are the youth. At the forefront of any major social movement, almost inevitably, you will find the innocent fearlessness of our young people leading the cause.

For this reason, BK Reader has taken steps to re-engage and revitalize a platform of expression for Generation Z– our community’s future leaders– through our section, “Young Voices.”

BK Readers, please meet Young Voices’ new junior editor, Helen Chen!

Helen Chen

Helen is a native New Yorker and a student finishing her junior year at the High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies. Helen will be curating the young voices column, identifying content, editing youth works and also contributing her own writing every month.

“Growing up, I was shy and always had difficulty communicating with others,” said Helen. “So writing was the only outlet I had. Writing became part of my identity, because it was really the only way I could share my thoughts and beliefs in a way that the world can hear me.”

Helen helps to organize young student activities at the Brooklyn Public Library. She is on the school debate team, and she is founder and editor-in-chief of her school’s paper, The Grand Street Journal. She also is a recipient of the Marcela Mitaynes Political Campaign Fellowship, for which she does voter canvassing and outreach.

She said she developed a love of journalism because she found it was the best way to combine her passion for writing, educational advocacy and community activism:  “I seek to assist my community by empowering kids from low-income backgrounds by providing them access to educational programs,” said Helen. “I’m currently seeking to start a program in my community where I can reach out to these students.”

Helen Chen

“I think that with the proliferation of social media content, less people are appreciating traditional journalism,” she said. “Journalism is a very special platform where certain standards are kept. When you have the wrong perception, it can influence a lot of things. So having credible sources is very important.”

“Amplifying young voices is important,” said Helen. “There aren’t a lot of young voices represented in journalism. We’re growing up in different circumstances; we’re growing up with technology. So we react to things differently.”

“Young people’s opinions matter. We’re the next generation of leaders and change makers, so we want to make sure our opinions and mainstream opinions mingle and integrate with each other so we can create a more positive environment for everyone.”

Please welcome and support Helen in her desire to keep community journalism alive and strong! You can see some of her handiwork on BK Reader as both an assignment editor and reporter here and here and here.

If you are between the ages of 8-18 and/or if you know of someone who is age 8-18 and would like to submit a piece to Young Voices, please email Helen Chen at: comet.in.making@gmail.com.

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