Winooski Teen Video Counters Bad Rap | Youth | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Winooski Teen Video Counters Bad Rap 

Local Matters

Published May 16, 2006 at 8:45 p.m.

WINOOSKI -- The Onion City's urban landscape has changed over the past few years, and not just because of the new buildings downtown. Since 2003, a group of about 20 Winooski teenagers known as the Teen Advisory Board -- aided by an AmeriCorps*VISTA worker and a liaison from the nonprofit Casey Family Services -- has been working to improve access to recreational opportunities for the city's youth. Like the construction crews, they're making progress.

In February 2005, they christened the Underground, Winooski's teen center, which is open three nights a week in the basement of the Champlain Mill. In June, the group plans to unveil a skatepark. This summer, they're also starting Veggie Town, a community garden that will help teens learn about agriculture and feed local low-income families.

Several TAB members hope to spread the word about their activities through a 20-minute TV show they filmed recently at Channel 17 studios in Burlington. The seven members who appear in the short film are taking part in the Our Voices, Our Communities teen leadership development effort, funded by a $2500 grant from the Vermont Children's Forum. The money paid for the video, which will air on Channel 17, as well as trips for the teens to Petra Cliffs and Farm and Wilderness Camp.

The group has invited the public to attend a screening of the show, followed by a discussion, at the Winooski Family Center on Thursday, May 18, at 5 p.m.

The video, a mock newscast, begins with Winooski High School seniors Marilyn Mora and Christian Seymour explaining that the production is seeking to counter prevailing perceptions. "Stereo-types include that Winooski is a bad place to live," Seymour intones earnestly, "and Winooski teens are no good."

The OVOC participants then describe their various projects in greater detail. They interview the Veggie Town coordinator, and WHS student Chynna Swann, a member of the Vermont Teen Leadership Safety Program. The video is admittedly amateurish, but their intentions are serious. "We hope to change the drug and alcohol abuse, and the amount of teen pregnancies we have in Winooski," Swann explains to the viewer.

It's hard to deny that some Winooski kids are struggling. According the 2000 U.S. Census, nearly 20 percent of Winooski residents under 18 live below the poverty line. And Winooski High School had one of the highest dropout rates in the state in 2005 -- more than 5 percent of students didn't finish high school, double the state's average.

TAB member and WHS senior Han Duong, whose family came to Winooski from Vietnam a decade ago, says these bad-news statistics get exacerbated by the adolescent rumor mill. "Other kids have this impression that we all carry guns and knives to school," she says. "We don't."

Duong, who will attend the University of Vermont next fall, notes that this bad impression is a deeply ingrained part of the area's culture. She recalls that during a bus ride to Burlington, her driver said when she was in school, everyone called the kids in Winooski "river rats."

Erin Buckwalter, Winooski's AmeriCorps*VISTA teen coordinator, says the teens she meets with each week during the school year are a dedicated crew. She'd like the larger community to recognize the group's momentum.

"It's been a really awesome project," she says of the video. "This is a way to show all the good things that are going on."

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Cathy Resmer

Cathy Resmer

Deputy publisher Cathy Resmer is an organizer of the Vermont Tech Jam. She also oversees Seven Days' parenting publication, Kids VT, and created the Good Citizen Challenge, a youth civics initiative. Resmer began her career at Seven Days as a freelance writer in 2001. Hired as a staff writer in 2005, she became the publication's first online editor in 2007.


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Youth

  • From Hanging Out to Healing: Vermont Teens Find Support Through Spectrum Youth & Family Services
  • From Hanging Out to Healing: Vermont Teens Find Support Through Spectrum Youth & Family Services

    On a cold and blustery Vermont winter day, it's a relief to duck inside and warm up. Young adults with no place else to go can come to the Spectrum Youth & Family Services Drop-In Center, at 177 Pearl Street in Burlington. The Drop-In Center serves youth ages 14 to 24 who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. (Paid Post)
    • Dec 15, 2021
  • National Foster Care Month Celebrates Those Who Nurture Children and Youth
  • National Foster Care Month Celebrates Those Who Nurture Children and Youth

    “This is such a rare group of individuals, who, in times of crisis or trouble, instead of ignoring a problem do the opposite: They lean in. They provide help, support and care for children and families in vulnerable situations. For this, I am so thankful," says Vermont DCF Deputy Commissioner Radke. (Paid Post)
    • May 10, 2021
  • Foster Care: Every Child Has a Story
  • Foster Care: Every Child Has a Story

    “Every child in foster care has a story,” says former foster child Makayla. Read some of their stories. Find out what advice Makayla has for people who want to understand or help children in foster care. (Paid Post)
    • Nov 23, 2020
  • More »

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2022 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation