All posts by haleyvelasco2017

Swiping into new trends in millennial dating

By Haley Velasco

Following a heated election cycle and the end of the holiday season, millennial daters are looking for love. According to data from an online dating app and professional matchmakers, there are trends that have been shifting in millennial dating, especially in terms of dating parameters and methods of finding relationships. There were 75.4 million millennials, ages 18-34 years old, in 2015, according to Pew Research Center.

Continue reading

How homeless Chicago teens are using social media to communicate

By Haley Velasco

Correction: The original version of this story published on March 9 incorrectly identified the makers of the Streetlight app. The app was not created by the City of Chicago. Streetlight is a joint project created and managed by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Youth Futures and the Young Invincibles, with grant funding from the VNA Foundation.

Homeless young people in Chicago are using social media to connect with each other and with services around the city. According to Chicago Public Schools, 18,831 students — or approximately 4.8 percent of the population — were identified as homeless during the 2015-16 school year. Programs that are providing services to homeless youths, like Teen Living Programs and La Casa Norte, have turned to social media to communicate with homeless youths.

Facebook is the easiest way for the program organizers and managers to reach young people, according to the sources we spoke to. When they don’t have access to smartphones, many homeless teens use public libraries as a place to use the internet and check their social media accounts.

Continue reading

Six South Side teens spark activism using social media

By Haley Velasco

Angered by police violence against the black community, six young black women decided to found a group in 2016 to make their voices heard and to take action. The four original members, who are high school students, Natalie Braye from Francis W. Parker School, Sophia Byrd from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Eva Lewis from Walter Payton College Prep, and Maxine Wint from Kenwood Academy, organized more than 2,000 people together through their Facebook group and by using retweets on Twitter for a silent protest against police shootings on July 11, 2016 at the intersection of State Street and Lake Street.

One month later, in August, the group held a second rally that hundreds attended in Millennium Park where participants gathered to demand justice around the police-related shooting of 18-year-old Paul O’Neal in Chicago. For this second protest, the group held a sit-in and marched down Michigan Avenue, according to Jones College Prep junior, Maxine Aguilar, one of the two new organizers that joined in August, along with Yahaira Tarr, a senior from Jones College Prep.

Continue reading

Lakeview trans protest draws criticism over representation

By Haley Velasco

To protect transgender rights, hundreds of people protested in Lakeview on February 25. Protesters gathered in the 7-Eleven parking lot at 3407 N. Halsted St. The event featured speakers, including LGBT activists and local politicians, before marching down North Halsted Street in protest. Despite the few hundred that showed, many chose to stay away, citing a lack of transgender individuals organizing the event, as well as a general lack of trust in the Boystown community, especially from minority transgender people.

Continue reading

Millennials contribute to Chicago’s climb as a bike-friendly city

By Haley Velasco

Molly Russell, 26 years old, who is new to Chicago, rides her bike from Lakeview down Lake Shore Drive to get downtown for school.

“I can just hop downtown with a really easy ride. No stress,” Russell said. “I’m really impressed by the transportation around Chicago. … It has not been quite as cold over the past couple of weeks so I have been trying to bike just to save money and get out and about.”

Rated as the No. 1 biking city in 2016, according to Bicycling Magazine, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city have made commitments to improving bike lanes and increasing access to bikes through bike-sharing programs like Divvy.

Continue reading

South Side non-profit helps Chicago homeless teens

By Haley Velasco

Josh, 21 years old, wears dark sunglasses inside and a Cleveland Cavaliers snapback hat on his head. He aspires to be a fashion designer.

“I want to go to school for fashion design,” Josh said. “I want to be like a black Tommy Hilfiger. … That’s the type of person that I want to be.”

James, 19 years old, eats two hot dogs that he cooked for lunch. He aspires to be an engineer and to create amusement park rides.

“I’m getting my G.E.D.,” James said when asked how he plans to build amusement park rides for Universal Studios.

Both are homeless.

Continue reading

Nonprofit bike shop thrives thanks to boost from the city

By Haley Velasco

Feb. 14 Update: We have added a documentary to this story which features student Freddy Mercado and David Pohlad in the bike shop.

If you walk down Sawyer Avenue in Albany Park, you’ll pass a shop with a glass storefront displaying multi-colored bikes hanging from the walls and the ceiling. Inside that shop, young people work and volunteer in the non-profit shop, fixing and building bikes for community members.

But it hasn’t always been easy to keep two Bikes N’ Roses locations in Albany Park and Belmont Cragin open, and to employ the students, according to David Pohlad, the program director.

Continue reading

Thousands of Chicago millennials turn out for protests

By Haley Velasco

Thousands of millennials turned out in Chicago to attend multiple protests throughout the weekend. On Friday, multiple activist groups, including student and political organizations, joined together to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump, which took place earlier that day in Washington, D.C. On Saturday, an estimated 250,000 people attended the Women’s March on Chicago, which aimed to bring attention to protecting the rights and civil liberties of women, according to the event’s organizers.

For a majority of the millennial generation, this was the first large-scale protest environment they have been involved in during their lifetime. The weekend’s events gave millennials, which total 69.2 million in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center, a chance to engage politically.

Continue reading