Teenagers go on air to inform and protect classmates

CLEVELAND — A ragtag group of students in Northeast Ohio are putting on their headphones and burying their stomachs into a microphone to make sure their classmates are tuned in to what’s going on in their community.

The Cleveland teenagers, or “Clenagers,” are stepping up to make their voices heard.

On a mission to answer the question: “How do we get the news to children?” Cora Young, a recent graduate of Cleveland Heights High School, helped create the Clanagers.

“We’re teenagers, we’re breaking news to other kids, we’ve built something from scratch,” Young said.

The initiative, launched in October, provides a multi-faceted platform for students from all over Cleveland and its suburbs.

“They’re all from different schools in the area, like East Side, West Side, private school, public school,” Shana Black said.

Teenagers share their view of the world through podcasts.

“They press a button, they start spinning the tape, and the conversation just develops,” Black said.

The team also shares information through online articles, YouTube videos, and social media.

“People want to hear what Generation Z thinks, and how can we make this world a better place for them? And these guys are telling us,” Black said.

James Carter, who just graduated from Bard High School Early College on Cleveland’s West Side, is using his time in front of the microphone to try to address issues like social justice.

“It’s nice, man. Everyone says I have the voice from the podcast. It revived something in me. Carter said.

Carter is one of many voices that facilitator Shana Black says resonates with her classmates.

“They are trusted, they know what rhythm is, they know what stories are,” Black said.

News 5 has learned that the demand for this program is high and right now they are looking for ways to reach more teenagers from underrepresented school districts.

“That’s one of the things that really inspires me about it and why I can’t wait to grow up so we can bring in more kids, more people who don’t have a voice who can speak,” Young said.

Carter’s family members are some of the Clevelanders’ biggest fans, and how he responds to their support sums up everything you need to know about Cleveland’s teen awareness and advocacy campaign.

“They talk about me like I’m famous, ‘Yes, James is on the internet, he says’ and everyone praises me and I feel good about it,” Carter said.