UI Journalism Academy visits Athletic Hall of Fame

BY ZACHARY POUND | JULY 01, 2011 7:20 AM

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Toting notebooks and pens, a curious group of fifth- and sixth-graders walked around the University of Iowa’s Karro Athletics Hall of Fame on Thursday.

But this wasn’t an everyday tour.

The 35 children visited as part of the UI’s Summer Journalism Academy, which teaches economically disadvantaged children from Des Moines and Davenport the importance of literacy, diversity, and preparing for college in a journalistic setting.

On Thursday morning, the children were working on one of their first assignments.

“We get to write about all these different things and events,” said Kevin Castro, an 11-year-old attending the academy for the first time. “And personally, I really like to write.”

The echoes of the children filled the space, as they discussed the athletes enshrined in the facility.
As an assignment, the children were instructed to walk through all three floors of the building to find and write about the athletes or teams that they were assigned.

“The kids take pictures and write about what they experienced on the trip,” said Terrence Thames, 25, a workshop instructor for the academy. “This year, they’re shooting video at the museum to also put up on the website.”

The camp runs for two weeks, during which children participate in such activities as interviewing the players and students at basketball games.

After learning about famous Hawkeye athletes, the youngsters make a summary of what they found, which will be put into a website in the form of a journalistic story. This story will be a compilation of all photos and videos of the athletes that were in the museum.

David Schwartz, the outreach director in the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said the children also participate in numerous writing exercises and learn interviewing and editing skills.

Since the program started, the youth have met with a professional photographer and sportswriter and interviewed Federal Emergency Management Agency officials and professional baseball players.

“The funding from this program comes from the university and is a great example of the UI giving back to the state of Iowa.” Schwartz said.

In it’s 13th year, the Summer Journalism Academy is funded by grant from the UI Chief Diversity Office and is nationally recognized, Schwartz said. It has helped more than 1,000 economically disadvantaged kids who have expressed an interest in writing.

Schwartz said the kids who enroll in this program benefit from being surrounded by professionals and volunteers in the journalism field who want to help the kids’ quest for knowledge.

“We’ve had kids who have gone through this program, who go through high school, and then end up coming here to attend school at UI,” Schwartz said.

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