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(left to right) Shan Ramsey, 15, Tyner High; Ravin
Hardwick, 13, 21st Century; and Tishai Washington, 13,
Brown Middle show what teamwork is all about as they
edit each other’s articles.

Damalia Simon, 16, Howard High organizes the layout
for her article on “Fashion.”

Victoria Addison (left), 15 and Tiffany Jenkins (right),
19 are returning peer counselors to help the girls with
their newspaper.

(left to right) Camp director, Mandy Morgan, lends her
expertise to Orttables Slater, 14, Chattanooga Christian
School, and Jessica Pinkston, 16, East Ridge High School.

UTC hosts Girls, Incorporated Journalism Camp

By Adrienne Teague, University Relations Intern

When a group of Girls, Incorporated of Chattanooga members are asked what they did this summer, they can tell the story that landed in the newspaper – a publication they created. Twelve middle school and high school girls came together this summer to participate in a four-week journalism camp at UTC.

The group of girls huddled in Frist Hall, where the UTC Communication Department is located, to put together the eight-page tabloid titled “Our Voices.” This is the second year that Girls, Inc. has partnered with UTC to provide a journalism summer camp for the girls.

“This has been a good experience. I have been able to learn more about journalism. I have always been interested in it, but I’ve never taken a class. This camp has shown me that it’s much harder than you think, and it’s a lot of work. But, I know my writing skills have really improved because of it,” said Damalia Simon, a first-time camper.

Under the direction of UTC graduate student, Mandy Morgan, former editor of the UTC Echo, the girls have been researching and writing articles. This year the students took on a new project, which was recording a Public Service Announcement about breast cancer. The girls wrote the script and acted in a 30 second and a 60 second PSA, to be aired on public television this fall.

“It’s great to be able to teach the girls skills they will use in the future. They are learning about something they are interested in that they won’t get in schools. They are like little adults for a month,” Morgan commented on her group of girls.

Maxine Bailey, executive director of Girls, Inc. said UTC is the ideal place to host the camp because it already houses a student newspaper. “The students are role models for our girls. They are there to help our girls learn,” said Bailey.

Girls Inc. is planning to distribute “Our Voices” to all the schools in Hamilton County before the start of the school year.

“This camp is a great recruiting tool for UTC. We hope that these girls find this place comfortable and that they want to come back here for college,” said Dr. Betsy Alderman, UC Foundation Professor, UTC Communication department.

In addition to the exciting new task of creating a Public Service Announcement, the girls took breaks and explored Chattanooga. “They have had guest speakers come every day, and have gone of field trips to other Girls Inc. sites. They have visited downtown, the IMax, they went to see a Lookouts game, and have gone to the zoo,” Morgan said.

However, at the end of the day, these girls were found working hard at their computers to form their own layouts and articles in their newspaper. And to help the girls, four returning campers were asked to be peer counselors to provide support and knowledge to the new campers.

Damalia Simon has used those peer counselors to help with her duties as opinions editor and advertising sales representative. She is originally from New Orleans, which was the spark of inspiration for her editorial article “New Orleans fashion vs. Chattanooga fashion.” She has also raised an advertising goal of over $200 for the newspaper.

“After the first person bought an ad for $75, I realized that I was really good at this and that it was going to be easy from here on out,” said Simon.

This invaluable experience is what is keeping girls like Simon intrigued in helping future campers. “I think other girls should come. I want to come back next year and volunteer as a peer counselor,” said Simon.

August 22, 2006

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