Young, poor and creative in San Diego

A student from City Heights took this photo to express how they felt about living in the neighborhood.

City Heights is one of the poorest neighborhoods in San Diego. But kids there are like kids anywhere else: opinionated, talented, goofy, resourceful, hopeful. Community groups in the area have been working to help these kids channel their thoughts on where – and how – they’re growing up using art, video and photography.  Like this video produced by kids with the help of the Media Arts Center of San Diego.  Kids at a local high school talk about how they make it through tough times. The video kicks off with Andrew Molina describing how he and his friends trade hats and shoes instead of going out and buying new ones.

Speak City Heights, a media collaborative based in City Heights, recently brought together a group of students to talk about what they see in their neighborhood and how it affects them. And with the help of AjA, a youth photography program, the students were able to show how they felt as well.

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On feeling disconnected from their teachers:

“Teachers don’t really know how we’re living here because, like, literally they don’t live in this area, because they live further away so they think this community is, like, ok. They think we don’t have any problems or anything.”

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On their peers:

 “Yeah, I saw like three kids last month walking down pregnant and like some of the kids say get a job by this age and they think it’s ok for them to stay and they don’t graduate and they get out of the house.”

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On gangs:

 “You see them when you’re walking to school. When I’m walking by the parks, there’s one set of gangs and another set of gangs there and if you get in the middle of those, if they get in a fight, you have to figure out a way to get around it.”

To see more of the work from the Speak City Heights program, check out their website.

And to hear from two families struggling to get by in City Heights, click here.

About the author

Jolie Myers is a former associate producer for Marketplace's Wealth & Poverty Desk.

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