Community, Questions, and Cedar Valley

Katie Giorgio, Heather Spangler, and their fellow IYWP volunteers are going above and beyond with their creative youth journalism workshop at Four Oaks Cedar Valley in Cedar Rapids, which was recently featured in Brittany Borghi’s story on the Iowa Youth Writing Project for KGAN-TV CBS 2. The volunteers introduced the young writers to the art of interviewing, teaching them the importance of close listening and asking open-ended, relevant questions. Each young writer chose a topic or profession that interested them, and then Katie and Heather actually recruited community members in those fields to visit Four Oaks Cedar Valley for live interviews with the budding journalists! Here’s a letter from “our woman in the field” Heather Spangler:

I wanted to let you know that last night was a big success with the live interviews. I’m attaching some photos of the kids in action.

Basketball players from Kirkwood Community College are interviewed by the young writers of Four Oaks Cedar Valley.
Basketball players from Kirkwood Community College are interviewed by the young writers of Four Oaks Cedar Valley.

As you can see, the Kirkwood basketball players were a big draw. The guys were awesome. In fact, the night ended with the players and the kids out on the basketball court showing off their skills. Rylee ran to her house to get a shovel to clear the snow and the players turned their car to point it toward the court and turned on their headlights so that they could see. It was a really neat moment.

Some other special successes: Samira, one of our youngest group members, completely rocked her interview with a Xavier High School poms coach. She asked great questions and wrote four pages of notes. When she was finished, she shook Stephanie’s hand and said, “Thank you for your time and for letting me interview you.” It was precious. Then, she was so proud of herself, she called her mom to tell her about her success.

Samira interviews  Xavier High School poms coach Stephanie.
Samira interviews Xavier High School poms coach Stephanie.

Armani, one of the quieter group members, spent the most time with his interviewee, a representative of Dogs Forever, Cedar Rapids’ first no-kill dog shelter. He didn’t write a lot of notes and didn’t give off a lot of body language signals that he was excited, but he asked her so many questions and kept talking with her even when most of the other kids were outside playing basketball. When she left, his guest told me that he revealed to her that he was an honor’s student.

Armani and Lisa
Armani interviews Lisa, a representative of Dogs Forever, the first no-kill dog shelter in Cedar Rapids.

Next week, we turn the interviews into stories!
Cheers,
Heather

Rylee interviews a volleyball player from Kirkwood Community College.
Rylee interviews a volleyball player from Kirkwood Community College.

 

Katie Giorgio, recipient of a Corridor Business Journal 2012 “40 Under 40” award, is a freelance writer and Nonprofit Network Coordinator of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. Read her full bio here.

Heather Spangler is a strategic communications writer at the University of Iowa and also teaches in the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

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