This year at the University of Connecticut, 22 teenagers, ages 16 and older, participated in the Conn. Health I-Team multimedia journalism workshop. They are receiving advice on investigative reporting, how to report and write new stories, and basic digital journalism, for example podcasting, shooting and editing videos with professional instructors. Since 2011, the Conn. Health I-Team has hosted high school journalism camps and close to 300 students.
Four Conn. Health I-Team journalism campers spent the week planning, scripting, shooting and producing a video story on the clean-up work going on after the May 15 tornado that devasted Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden and damaged parts of the surrounding neighborhood and Quinnipiac University. The student journalists, Raven Joseph of the Cooperative High School, New Haven; Kiersten Harris, Amadi Mitchell and Casmir Ebubedike, all of the Achievement First Amistad High School in New Haven, spent the week interviewing officials, knocking on neighbors’ doors and shooting video. With help from Jodie Mozdzer Gil, an assistant professor of journalism at Southern Connecticut State University, and Charlene Torres, a senior at Quinnipiac University, the students produced the first C-HIT News segment. This video was shot in July and the work on the park continues. https://youtu.be/iU15UfIG7vI
With the average college tuition reaching new heights at public and private universities, high school students and their parents, particularly those of lower income, are under greater pressure to not only find the most suitable institutions but also the best financial aid packages. Although many universities, including Quinnipiac University in Hamden, provide financial aid packages to a large portion of students, they may not be able to cover all their students’ financial needs and may force students to transfer or take on crippling debt, Charlene Torres, a Quinnipiac senior from Bridgeport, said. Torres said some of her friends have had to drop out of Quinnipiac due to their inability to continue paying the tuition or their increasing debt. “I know my roommate sophomore year was taking out $30,000 in loans every semester just to go here,” Torres said. Financial aid is a common concern on campus.
After a stretch of poor Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores from 2009-2011, the University of Connecticut men’s basketball program has improved its APR dramatically. UConn’s APR was below 900 for two years in a row (2008-2009 and 2009-2010), at a time when the national average for men’s Division 1 basketball programs was around 940, the NCAA reports. In 2013, the men’s team was banned from postseason play because of “subpar” APR scores, Dom Amore, the UConn men’s basketball beat reporter for the Hartford Courant, said. Since then, the team’s APR has not dipped below 950 while the Huskies have achieved a perfect score of 1000 in three of the seasons since then. “Since the academic problems the UConn men had, the school has vastly upgraded its support system,” Amore said.
The teen pregnancy rate is at a record low in many states, but especially in Connecticut. Connecticut was ranked 50th in 2015 for teen birth rates, age 15 to 19, reports the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Pregnancy rates for teens have been declining for decades, and have gone down 75 percent from 1991 to 2015. Recently, from 2014 to 2015, the teen pregnancy rate dropped 13 percent. The cause of this sharp decline in teen birth rates could be attributed to a number of things.
Throughout the past seven years, the number of children and teens in New England with developmental or emotional disorders has increased exponentially, the Kids Count Data Center reports. Developmental disorders are conditions that interrupt a child’s development. They include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and spina bifida. Emotional disorders affect a person’s ability to be happy, control their emotions and pay attention in school. They include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
In stark contrast to the general financial well-being of Connecticut residents, the state is in a hunger crisis that is negatively impacting children, primarily in urban areas. The most recent data from Feeding America shows that in 2016, 11.6 percent of the total Connecticut population was living with food insecurity, and of that percentage, 15.6 percent were children. According to the parameters set at the World Food Summit in 1996, “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
While food security may be something most Connecticut residents take for granted, a significant portion of the Connecticut population wonders every day where their next meal will come from. The impact of this issue is especially concerning when considering how it is affecting children. The 2018 report on Child Food Insecurity by Feeding America states that struggling with food insecurity puts children at a greater risk for “stunted development, anemia and asthma, oral health problems and hospitalization.”
Connecticut’s governor quickly weighed in with a strongly worded statement on July 16 when two children who were separated from their families at the U.S- Mexico border because they were all undocumented were reunited with their parents. “It should not take a lawsuit to convince President Trump to reunite the families his administration heartlessly ripped apart—nor should it take public intervention from governors, United States senators, and members of Congress,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement. The children were a 9-year-old boy from Honduras who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in June to escape gun violence and a 14-year-old girl from El Salvador who crossed the border in May with her mother after the girl’s stepfather was murdered, according to the Hartford Courant. According to the emergency lawsuit filed by the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at the Yale Law School, “some mental health experts have concluded that the separation is profoundly damaging to the short-term and long-term mental, emotional, and physical health of vulnerable children, who lose their primary caregivers at a time of almost unimaginable stress and fear.”
Malloy said that Trump’s zero-tolerance policy is nothing short of child abuse and has “caused unimaginable trauma.”
“While it is good news that these children will be reunited with their parents today, they never should have been separated in the first place,” Malloy said. In an interview, Kathleen McWilliams, a Courant reporter who has been covering this case, said she would like more people to understand about immigration.
Efforts to mend relationships between police and communities have contributed to a continued decrease in crime in New York City. The city reported a drop in overall crime for the fourth straight year. Records show that there were 96,517 crimes reported in 2017, compared with 102,052 in 2016, a drop of 5.4 percent. In 2017, there were 292 murders in New York City, compared with 335 the year prior. That’s in contrast to the 2,605 people killed in New York City in 1990.
Connecticut public high schools have become a familiar territory for military recruiters. At Conard High School in West Hartford, Nolan Asadow, a junior, said that he sees recruiters from all service branches giving away branded merchandise and speaking to any student interested in learning more about military service. “I see the recruiters in the cafeteria and in the halls at my school about once a month,” he said. One reason that they’re in Connecticut high schools so often is because there are so few people eligible to serve. According to the U.S Army Recruiting Command, there are 33.4 million Americans age 17 to 24 and only a little less than 140,000 of them are eligible for service when whittled down by standards, quality and interest.