YMG is hitting the books for fall with new schools, new students and renewed vigor!

YMG founder Jayne O’Donnell on September 2021 with an Annandale High School journalism student after Jayne presented to the class.

In September, we began a collaboration with two high school journalism classes, at Banneker High School in Washington, D.C. and Annandale High School in Annandale, Va. In these schools, which have long standing journalism programs and well-established school newspapers, we are working with students to beef up their health coverage, get outside sources and expand the scope of some of their stories in order to get them published in local and national news outlets. We also hope to teach both classes how to better use social media to get their work to a wider audience, as well as how to create IG Reels and TikToks about important health topics.

YMG Instructor and Mentor-Editor Alan Gomez, top left, and YMG Director of Content and Programs Brie Zeltner, top right, with the Annandale High School school newspaper staff and their teacher, Alan Weintraut, in an October class.

Rather than an in-person presence in these schools (which is difficult for us both logistically and financially), we’ll be offering virtual “office hours” in which small groups of students can get one-on-one support on stories and social media from me (I spent 15 years as a public health reporter at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland) other staff members and our Miami-based mentor-editor, former USA TODAY national reporter Alan Gomez. 

This year-long partnership is part of our ongoing effort to perfect our formula for how to best work with high school classes. We’ve learned a lot in the past two years about what works – and what doesn’t – and we hope that this combination of a partnership with experienced journalism teachers, a smaller group of engaged and interested students and our more targeted, virtual presence will benefit everyone and lead to more students published.

We’ll keep you updated on our progress over the course of the year, and follow our social media accounts for some of these students’ work in the months to come! There, you can check out a new video featuring one of our Rhode Island students, 9th grader Samuel Gidron, talking about his experience working with YMG and filmed on location in Providence this August.

This month, we’re working with 18 students from across the country in our virtual intensive writing workshop, which started October 3, and our second Canva boot camp. The workshop, which focuses on the impact of income inequality on health and possible solutions, includes two teams of students from Miami, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia that are working with our mentor-editors on a Philadelphia-focused and a national angle on the topic. Our Canva training includes several new students from Cleveland, Maryland and Virginia as well as a group of repeat customers from Miami. 

Our successful Canva training, launched last year with a pilot curriculum developed and taught by YMG Managing Editor Julianne Hill, will kick off on Halloween. New mentor-editor Betsy Montes, YMG Data Visualization Specialist Pooja Singh and Visuals Editor Sophie Beney will teach a group of 10 high school students to create graphics and short videos about mental health and the decriminalization of mental illness (DCMI) for our Sozosei Foundation-funded TikTok account, and to be used ahead of our coverage of the Sozosei Summit in December.

About that Summit… this year we’ll not only be sending two Philadelphia high school students to report on and write stories about the conference—one for her second year — we’ll also be offering a 45-minute session to attendees on how to create journalistic TikToks about the decriminalization of mental illness. That session will be led by YMG CEO Jayne O’Donnell with the help of two of our talented creators, Baltimore high school junior Don McClain and YMG intern Hermes Falcon. Their videos have garnered thousands of views on TikTok and Instagram, and they’ll help attendees create their own TikToks during the session. 

So keep an eye on our social media channels for some of those videos, and as always, like and share our fabulous content!