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Brooklyn teens still on mission to serve

  • Story Highlights
  • Thirty kids from Bushwick, Brooklyn, took part in "Journey for Change"
  • Malaak Compton-Rock spearheaded the mission to empower "at-risk" youth
  • Kids, ages 12 to 15, volunteered to serve the impoverished, AIDS orphans
  • Since they returned the kids have participated in several community service projects
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Thirty kids, ages 12 to 16, from Bushwick, Brooklyn, were chosen to participate in "Journey for Change," a youth empowerment program created by Malaak Compton-Rock. Last summer, they traveled to South Africa with Compton-Rock and CNN's Soledad O'Brien. Since returning to the U.S., they've hosted fundraisers and participated in community service projects as "global ambassadors" in the program. Their stories will be featured this July 22 and 23 as CNN Presents "Black in America 2."

Journey for Change

Since returning to the U.S., the Journey for Change kids have hosted a number of fundraisers.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Several of the kids who participated in "Journey for Change," a youth empowerment program founded by activist Malaak Compton-Rock, were asked to blog about their experiences last August when they traveled to South Africa. They have continued to blog about their journey and share what they've learned from their experiences after they returned home to Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Here is a look at their most recent entries:

Journey for Change Notebook: June 2009

The trip to the United Nations was a very good experience. I didn't know I left the country until my tour guide told me. I bet Martin Luther King Jr. would have loved the United Nations. I say that because Dr. King loved peace. Peace is what the United Nations represents. The information that I received was just amazing and will be with me for the rest of my life. Thank you, Malaak, for the wonderful experience.

I also had fun when we went to UNICEF. UNICEF was an amazing place. UNICEF and Journey for Change do the same thing. However, UNICEF is a much bigger group. I hope that one day Journey for Change will become as big as UNICEF. UNICEF is always helping children all around the world. Journey for Change is always helping children all around the world also.

The trip to CNN was really fun because I love being around really highly technical gadgets. It was also cool because we got a chance to see a Journey for Change clip. The Journey for Change clip showed us in Brooklyn and in Africa. I just want to tell CNN that they did a really good job with the short clip. I also can't wait to see the full version of the clip.

The Delegates Dining Hall at the U.N. was very fun. Eating is one of my favorite times of the day. The food was very good. My favorite foods there were the cake and the bread. I also talked to a lot of people that were there. The people that were there were very curious about Journey for Change. I also got a lot of compliments about how sharp I looked.

-- Albert Brunn III, 13

June 4, 2009 was Brooklyn and Queens day and we had an opportunity to go to the United Nations, UNICEF, and the CNN building. I enjoyed that day because I learned a lot from the United Nations about other countries. Also my group tour guide told us that when you enter the United Nations it is no longer the United States of America. It was pretty interesting to hear this. Then we were in a debate room where a country leader and two representatives came in and talked about their country issues. That room is a place where everybody is treated equally!

In the CNN building I looked at the editing room where they take bits of film and make it to a new film. I saw an example of when Barack Obama was talking about his trip in the Middle East. The editor was editing it and made a new film that has the main details. I also saw a live newscast where the anchors have the screen in front of them and they read off of it. (Forgot what it was called). We also viewed a piece about the Journey for Change group when we were in Africa.

Well, I really enjoyed this day a lot. THANK YOU MALAAK FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY!!!!!!!!!!

-- Laura DiFilippi, 13

'Black in America 2'
Soledad O'Brien investigates what African-Americans are doing to confront the most challenging issues facing their communities. You'll meet people who are using groundbreaking solutions in innovative ways to transform the black experience.
July 22 & 23, 8 p.m. ET

On June 4 we went to the United Nations, UNICEF and the CNN studio. At UNICEF we took a tour of the building and they explained the organization. They explained how they contribute internationally, and the methods used to fund raise for money such as trick or treat for UNICEF. At UNICEF I learned a lot about the products they use for children, like school in a box, and how they help children with their daily health needs. Next we went to the United Nations and we ate lunch and took a tour. We went into important rooms where government officials from different countries discuss international problems. We saw beautiful art displayed all around. Lastly, we went to the CNN studio. We toured around the building, saw a live broadcast, a preview of the Black in America 2 and the offices where people work. The studio seemed so amazing and unbelievable. It was so big and it was like what you see on television, but right in front of you. That day I experienced a lot of amazing places and learned a lot of things. It was really cool to experience and learn all about CNN, UNICEF and the United Nations.

-- Sydney Smart, 13

On Thursday June 4, 2009 we went on a tour in three different buildings. The first was UNICEF, then the United Nations, and last CNN. When we went to UNICEF they showed us all the ways they help people and different ways we can help. One way was to trick or treat for UNICEF. That's when people donate money to help kids in need get food and clothes. We went to United Nations and ate in the Delegates Hall and took a tour of the whole premises. Last when we went to CNN we had lots of fun. We went into the studios and saw where all the people search for information to put on the news. We also saw reporters in action filming live in the studios. Lastly we went back home. I had lots of fun and hope a day like this will come along again.

-- Queen Clyde, 13

On Brooklyn Queens Day we went to visit UNICEF. I learned that in emergencies or natural disasters they use a thing called a school in a box. It's for children whose schools have been destroyed by flooding, hurricanes, war, etc. We also visited CNN. I finally got to see one of the Journey for Change videos and how things work in the control room. I think it's cool to work there. We also had lunch in the Delegates Dining Room at the U.N. I really, really, REALLY enjoyed the dessert. The tour of the U.N. was also interesting. I learned there are 193 countries who are part of the U.N., and there are only three that haven't joined. There was a lot of information to take in that day but it was really fun.

-- Daisa Carr, 13

Today June 4th was Brooklyn Queens day. We all know what that means no school. Yeah, another day to have a fun time with my second family, Journey For Change. We had an exciting day of touring the U.N. and the CNN building behind the scenes. I learned that at the U.N. building many world issues are solved, and we looked at different parts of the U.N. building. But it depends on what kind of world issue it involves.

Touring behind the scenes of CNN was very exciting. I didn't know what to expect. I got to watch a live shoot. And I also got to watch the workers use technology to edit clips and put then together. When I saw the Journey For Change clip I felt apart of something big. Maybe something that could change the world someday. June 4, 2009 is a day that I will never forget.

-- Sayris Pallares, 14

My day at the United Nations, UNICEF, and CNN was fun. The first place we went was UNICEF. I learned that a lot of kids around the world are suffering from so many different things and UNICEF uses so many little things just to make kids around the world have a good life. The next place I went to was The United Nations. In this place people from around the world come to settle disputes between their countries and make peace. The final place we went to was CNN. During my tour of CNN, I went to different studios for different shows and even watched a live show. After, we went to the control room and watched a video of us in Africa. The day was so exciting and I'll never forget it.

-- Imaan Williams, 12

I enjoyed the tour around the United Nations, a place where the whole world can come to have meeting about a problem in their country. They can discuss problems such as the genocide in Darfur or the LRA in Uganda who abduct children into the war and makes them child soldiers. I also enjoyed the dinner followed by dessert. At CNN I enjoyed walking around and seeing how everything works behind the scenes, and seeing how information gets together and reported on air. I also liked seeing the video that Soledad O'Brien put together about Journey for Change. It touched me and brought back good memories from South Africa.

-- Steven Pallares, 16

My day at UNICEF and the United Nations was the best. I don't even know where to begin. I was just so happy that I was able to see what UNICEF was all about, and what happens at the United Nations. I never even heard of the United Nations before. Now that I have heard about it, I am glad because the United Nations is a good organization and discusses issues that happen all over the world. UNICEF is sort of like Journey for Change but a whole lot different. For example we are young ambassadors and we have only been out of the country once to visit South Africa.

When we went to CNN headquarters, I was amazed at what I saw. There were different news rooms and many different people working on stories to show on the news. I've always wondered what goes on in a newsroom. After my visit to CNN, I am interested in becoming an intern for them.

-- Vandeesha Walker, 13

Had a great day at the United Nations and the CNN studio. The United Nations was so awesome! We toured the Security Council room to see where delegates meet to discuss world peace. It was interesting to see the gifts presented to the U.N. from various countries throughout the years. The history behind how the U.N. was formed was also discussed by our tour guide. They also talked about the five super power countries and their role. It is hard to image that so many countries can come together for a common goal.

Going to CNN was fun. We got to see how things work behind the scenes. Everything seems to be in one big room. We had the opportunity to view a live taping, and met with the team working on Black in America 2. We had the opportunity to learn how reporters come up with topics, do research and then build questions around those topics. Seems like a great place to work!

-- Joshua Hall, 15


My trip to the United Nations, UNICEF, and CNN was an interesting and exciting trip. I got to go on a tour of UNICEF and understand what they do in this country and around the world. The tour of CNN was fun. I got to see how they worked the screens and what it looks like behind the scenes. We got to see a clip of the Journey for Change video. The trip was really fun. Also before that, during lunchtime, we had lunch in the Delegates Dining Hall of the United Nations. I really enjoyed myself on the trip.

-- Zuliana Burnett, 14

Read all of the blogs from Soledad O'Brien and the Journey for Change kids:

Soledad: We are in Africa! | Visit to a Shantytown | Return to Bushwick

Kids' Notebooks: August 3 | August 4 | August 6 | August 9 | August 10 | August 19 | August 24 | September 22 | October 15 | November to January | February | March

All About African-American IssuesAfrica

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