Dear Cleveland project hears from Central teens

Rachel Dissell and Brie Zeltner of The Plain Dealer visited Friendly Inn to talk with high school students in Central, as part of the paper’s ongoing “Dear Cleveland” project.

Dissell said the Dear Cleveland name was inspired by a previous conversation with teens at Martin Luther King Jr. High School, in which one student suggested that they wish they could write a letter to Clevelanders to show them the parts of the city that they don’t see in the media.DearCLE_friendlyInn

“Cleveland’s children have a lot to say to the adults around them, about what’s wrong, and right, in their lives,” Dissell and Zeltner write in The Plain Dealer. “They also have ideas about how to fix what they see that’s not working.

At Friendly Inn, Dissell and Zeltner asked students to highlight elements of the community that they saw as strengths, and then list things that they would like to change, if they could.

Among Central’s strengths, according to the students, were community centers like Friendly Inn, and the close-knit ties of the people in Central. They said they would like to change a number of things, including gun violence, gang activity and the prevalence of drugs. Dissell and Zeltner encouraged conversation to elaborate on these points, prompting students to talk about their experiences with both the positive and the negative, and how they may be able to tell the stories that the rest of Cleveland doesn’t know.

Thanks to The Plain Dealer for including the voices of Promise in the Dear Cleveland project.

If you have a story of your own you’d like to share, contact Dear Cleveland: