December 07, 2021 Category: Our Impact Our Programs

Voices of Summer: The Fresh Air Fund’s Journalism Youth Internship Program

“I really like writing and being able to be more creative through it. I learned about having a strong work ethic, and it pushed me out of my comfort zone. I also met new people that I wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for the program,” Lark, 16. 

Read all about it! This summer, The Fresh Air Fund’s Youth Internship Program introduced a new program – a journalism cohort for teens ages 16 and 17 years old. Through workshops and hands-on interactive assignments as part of a project-based curriculum, students explored the foundations of journalism by conducting their own interviews, research, photography and videography.

Additionally, students attended virtual skill development workshops through partnerships including Sweet Blackberry, an organization that brings little known stories of African American achievement to children everywhere.   

During the summer, Journalism interns were “peer reporters” and visited The Fresh Air Fund’s Summer Spaces program sites and joined our virtual camp, Fresh Air Everywhere, sessions. At the end of their program, students produced a complete Fresh Air Fund Summer newsletter and final project, Voices of Summer, that presents their peers’ summer internship experiences and perspectives. 

‘I started to see the program in a different way week by week. I knew that students would learn about writing, but it became more than that. We started building a relationship – as a cohort and as a group. Students found a safe space and became comfortable working together. For me personally, I think that was my favorite part,” Zoe Abney, Journalism Site Monitor.  

Fresh Air Summer 2021 Newspaper

The Summer 2021 Newspaper created by The Fresh Air Fund’s Journalism Interns.

From creating a design to developing story topics, students learned how to launch their own newspaper! They learned how to collect content, and how to format and write stories. They were also assigned specific roles including photographers, editors, writers and interviewers.  

To prepare the interns for their assignments, The Fund’s Communications team joined the cohort as guest speakers and led workshops on topics introducing the importance of photography in storytelling, as well as important guidelines and interview skills that the interns can use when they are in the field on assignment.  

The newsletter featured stories from Fresh Air Summer Spaces and Fresh Air Everywhere. The cohort was divided into two groups with half visiting Summer Spaces sites in Brooklyn and the other attending virtual camp bunks. In addition, the interns interviewed counselors, site supervisors and, of course, Fresh Air kids! 

17-year-old Journalism intern and managing editor, Fatoumata, enjoyed meeting new people this summer and working on her writing skills. 

Workshops with Sweet Blackberry introduced the interns to journalism through an Afro American standpoint as interns learned about African American journalist reporters who had an integral role during the Civil Rights Movement. The interns were given an assignment of creating their own blog post. By focusing on issues that they are interested in, students saw how they could use writing to address social and political issues they care about. Students covered issues from the Black maternal health crisis to equality in sports. Through blog writing, students also developed research and writing skills that helped prepare them for creating their summer newspaper.  

“Sweet Blackberry was one of the best parts of the program. They came and offered us great information,” Fatoumata said.  

“It was such a great experience and what an honor it was for me to be a part of this with everyone. You are so inspiring – your engagement and the thoughtfulness that you put into your project, for me, was exciting,” Founder and President of Sweet Blackberry, Karyn Parsons, shared with the cohort during their final presentations. 

Voices of Summer 

Voices of Summer: The Summer Teen Academy Journalism Program’s Final Project.

The Voices of Summer project introduced an opportunity for journalism students to reflect and use the skills they learned to write a personal narrative of the Journalism program. Interns shared about their experience this summer – the work they did, their daily schedule and their biggest takeaways. 

In the interns own words: 

“I’m thankful for this program. I learned so much about mediums that I was not as familiar with. This is great because I’ll be able to take skills with me to my last year of high school, college and even future job opportunities,” Rylee, 17.  

“I loved the lessons that we got and information from the instructors, they told us about their experiences and the lessons that we can learn from,” Gail, 17.  

“I liked reconnecting back with The Fresh Air Fund because it was a big part of my childhood. This summer was different, I liked meeting new people and the opportunity to network and learn professional skills,” Donai, 17.  

“I love how everyone was actively participating and it was exciting to see so many of us passionate about what we’re doing – Gail loved poetry and Rylee is an amazing writer. It was refreshing to see people my age actively learning what they wanted to do in their careers and work on hobbies that they wanted to do,” Fatoumata, 17.  

Check out our Summer 2021 video to learn more about our Summer Programs.