Browsing articles in "Age 9-15"

Transgender Teen Leelah Alcorn’s Story Details a Life of Rejection

Feb 19, 2015   //   by Lola   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Transgender Teen Leelah Alcorn’s Story Details a Life of Rejection
Leelah Alcorn selfie

Leelah Alcorn

On Dec. 28, transgender teen Leelah Alcorn (born Joshua Alcorn) committed suicide. When she was 14 she came out to her parents. Her parents were not open-minded to the idea of their son wanting to be a girl. Sixteen-year-old Leelah asked her parents for permission to undergo transition treatment. They refused the surgery and started to send her to Christian conversion therapy to convince her to accept being a boy. Leelah’s parents took her out of school and did not let her use social media anymore. Leelah started to feel isolated and depressed. Her loneliness got to an unbearable point, she felt hopeless and that she would never be happy on earth, so she chose to end her life. Her parents were bullies who told her, “it’s just a phase, she would never be a girl”. This made her feel helpless. No matter how many times she tried to explain her feelings to her parents, they simply insisted “God doesn’t make mistakes”.

Despite her parents’ opinions and lack of support, Leelah reached out to try and help other people in situations similar to hers. She had a friend post a suicide note to tumblr, which explained her situation, and asked for people to support transgender people around the world saying: “After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids, even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.”

Leelah’s story has sparked an international outcry against the cruelty of her parents and the unfairness of what she had to go through. She suffered from depression because of parents who not only didn’t support her, but also wouldn’t bring her to see a proper therapist (her mom took her to Christian therapists who made it worse by telling her she was “selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.” In her suicide note, Leelah expressed her desire to help other transgender people going through discrimination and the resulting depression by donating all her things and money to the transgender rights movement saying: “The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights.” Leelah’s story attracted international attention, and really raised awareness about what transgender people often have to go through.

What Leelah went through, the discrimination and bullying from her parents is no way to treat a person. However, the family has since received many angry letters and emails, and even some threats. I think voicing your opinions is extremely necessary and wonderful, and should be encouraged, especially when trying to make the world a better, safer place, but even though Leelah’s parents were incredibly unfair and horrible to her, they should not be receiving threats. It cannot be easy to lose a child, no matter how unfair you were to that child while they were alive. Receiving threats is also unfair. No matter how unfairly someone treats someone else, supporters of the oppressed should not be sending threats of violence to the oppressors. Especially when they’ve just lost a child, which really is punishment enough.

Leelah faced inhuman discrimination from her own parents, which is something that, especially in this day and age should never ever happen.

Source: An Ohio transgender teen’s suicide, a mother’s anguish – By Ashley Fantz, CNN


Zach checks out The Saga of Darren Shan: Cirque du Freak

Feb 12, 2015   //   by Zach   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Zach checks out The Saga of Darren Shan: Cirque du Freak
The Saga of Darren Shan: Cirque du Freak

The Saga of Darren Shan: Cirque du Freak

The Saga of Darren Shan is a 12-part series of books about a boy named Darren Shan. Darren is a vampire. Darren Shan was a normal school boy, surviving life in a harsh middle school with his three friends: Allan, Tommy and Steve. Steve is Darren’s #1 best friend, even though he is rash and very violent. Steve and Darren’s friendship is partly because Darren loves spiders, and Steve loves vampires. They both don’t know why, but they are just fascinated by these creatures.

One day, Allan finds a flyer in his big brother’s pocket while doing the laundry; he confirms that the flyer is a ticket to a freak show named “Cirque du Freak” (which means circus of freaks in French). He shows it to his friends, they get really excited and want to go to the show. Steve volunteers to get the tickets, saying he will sneak out of the house and buy them. When he returns, he says he was only allowed to buy 2 tickets. When the three others hear this, they argue at first, but come to the conclusion that Steve would get one because he snuck out at night. That leaves one ticket left for three of them. In the end, Darren gets the ticket and Allen and Tommy get their money back.

When Darren and Steve get to the Cirque a few days later they are amazed at the so-called “freaks” in the show. But, what they were both astonished by was the actor Mr. Crepsley. He had a spider named Madam Octa that he controlled with a flute. Darren was amazed by Madam Octa, but Steve was amazed by Mr. Crepsley himself. Steve recognized him; he was a vampire! Meanwhile, Darren couldn’t stop thinking about Madam Octa, and one day he decides to steal Madam Octa from Mr. Crepsley. That is where Darren’s new life begins.

The Saga of Darren Shan: Cirque du Freak is one of the best book series I’ve ever read and I absolutely recommend it to kids years 11+. It’s a very good series, and I promise you can’t put it down once you start reading it. The part that makes it interesting is that it plays with the myth of vampires. For example: vampires don’t have fangs, they have sharp nails to cut into flesh and drink blood. They also never kill when they feed, and try to stay out of human affairs as much as they can. Vampires believe that “even in death may you be triumphant”. That means, that if you perish fighting you have died honorably. Honour is a very big part of the clan.

In all, I think people should definitely read this series. I’ve noticed that when I ask people if they know about these books, they usually say that they don’t. I think this series should get the attention it deserves. I rate it five stars, and hopefully this review draws attention to the books and gets people reading this series.


Zach checks out The Maze Runner

Jan 8, 2015   //   by Zach   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Zach checks out The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner movie poster

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner is a fast-paced movie that will keep you on the edge of the couch. It’s about a young boy named Thomas, who gets sent into the Glade, which is the centre of a giant maze. Thomas gets sent up into the Glade by an elevator, his memory is wiped, and the only thing he can remember is his name. He is greeted by a group of boys around his age. Alby is the leader of the clan of boys, because he was the first one sent into the Glade and he had to survive a whole month by himself. Alby tells Thomas that the people who put them there send up food supplies and a new member to the Glade every month. He also says there seems to be no way out of the maze.

Thomas eventually discovers he is in a community called the Gladers, young boys surviving in the maze. The maze the boys are stuck in is explored by a group of Gladers known as the Runners. The Runners try to map and explore the maze as much as possible, in hopes of one day being able to escape. Thomas longs to explore the maze and get out of the Glade as soon as possible but he knows about the Grievers, hideous creatures who inhabit the maze at night, killing or stinging the Runners who enter. So far no one has made it out of the maze alive, at least not that they know.

A few days after Thomas arrives a new recruit comes in, but this time it’s a girl. In her hand is a note, which says, “She’s the last one ever!” This means it’s the last supply elevator the boys will ever get, so, they now know they have no choice; they must get out of the maze or die trying. I won’t give away the ending, but the movie has many twists and turns, and not everything is as it seems.

I would rate The Maze Runner a 9/10. It’s fast-paced, keeps your eyes glued to the screen, and will leave you satisfied after the movie is finished. It has amazing visual effects, which make it hard to stop watching! I cannot say if the movie is loyal to the book or not, because I have never read the book. But the movie is great and you wont be disappointed.


Cloaked in Controversy: Urban Outfitters

Nov 26, 2014   //   by Celeste   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Cloaked in Controversy: Urban Outfitters

That Shi# Don’t Fit!

Urban Outfitters is a clothing store targeted at teenagers and young adults. The store has managed to insult people of various ethnicities, people with eating disorders and substance abuse problems, as well as glorifying gun violence.

A fake blood stained Kent University sweatshirt was only the beginning of Urban Outfitters controversial clothing. In 1970, 4 Kent University students were killed during a protest. The sweatshirt is believed to be a comment on the Kent University massacre. After a buzzfeed article was published on the matter, Urban Outfitters released a statement saying “It was never our intention to allude to the tragic event that took place at Kent State in 1970, and we are extremely saddened that this item is perceived as such.”

Urban Outfitters is also known for selling merchandise glamourizing the abuse of drugs and alcohol. With t-shirts saying things such as “I Vote for Vodka”, “Misery Loves Alcohol”, “I Drink, You’re Cute”, and “USA Drinking Team”. Most of the customers at Urban Outfitters are between the ages of 15 and 24, most of who are below the legal drinking age. Even aimed at an older crowd, these slogans make inappropriate light of a serious issue.

Size 0 : Ethics and Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters has also made clothing idolizing and eulogizing eating disorders with shirts saying things such as “Eat Less”. Eating disorders are very serious and should not be treated as a joke. Eating disorders are a serious problem in today’s society and it is appalling that a clothing store would create such an insensitive shirt.

In conclusion, Urban Outfitters has proved time and time again that they believe the glorification of violence, eating disorders and, use and abuse of substances, is not only ok but cool. Urban Outfitters seems to be treating serious issues in our society as casual non-issues, but also a source of amusement that should be commonly sported.


Zach checks out Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Nov 11, 2014   //   by Zach   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Zach checks out Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls is a very impressive series. Here’s a quick primer:

  • Elder Scrolls IV was released in March 2006
  • Elder Scrolls V was released in September 2011
  • Elder Scrolls VI – undisclosed release date

Why it’s Cool:

This Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim, is a fantasy-type adventure based in the world of Tamriel, in the northern-most province called Skyrim. The premise is that dragons have returned. However, they are not merely returning from a distant land, instead, they are being resurrected from the dead. A long time ago, (before your character was “born”), there was a Great War against dragons and the natives of Skyrim who call themselves Nords. The Nords originally thought that the dragons were gods, due to their massive size, immortality, and ability to “shout”. When a dragon shouts a word in his own tongue, that word will become pure power. So, if a dragon shouts “fire” in his language, he will breathe fire.

Over time, when the Nords still worshipped the dragons as gods, they began to think the dragons were becoming tyrants, more than leaders and this lead to the dragon war. In the beginning, the Nords were outnumbered and outmatched, but some dragons thought that their leader, Alduin, was acting as more of a dictator than a leader, so eventually they betrayed him and joined forces with the Nords. The dragons taught the Nords how to speak their own language, giving them the ability to shout and eventually the Nords won. How did they, win you ask? They to sent the dragon’s leader, Alduin, forward in 100 years in time

Fast-forward 100 years or so, you are a prisoner along with other soldiers and the leader of your rebellion is sent to execution. You are now a Dragonborn. Alduin is back, and he is trying to bring back dragons in order to wipe out the Nords and eventually all of Tamriel. The great thing about Skyrim is that the game allows you the freedom to be who you want to be. With an arsenal including spells, swords, axes, maces, daggers and bow and arrows, you can literally be a one-man army.

All in all, Skyrim is a very good game with a very intriguing storyline, and smooth gameplay and graphics. I highly recommend it, and rate it 5 stars.


Lola checks out the intersection of reality and social media

Nov 4, 2014   //   by Lola   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Lola checks out the intersection of reality and social media

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I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media, and that we create an online world which reality can no longer meet. My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality. Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated. But we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives.

—Zilla van den Born

I read an article on a Dutch woman named Zilla van den Born who “travelled” to East Asia. The interesting thing is that she never left the Netherlands. She told all her friends and family that she was vacationing in Asia. Through social media she kept in touch with everyone by posting pictures of her travels. She posted pictures of her visiting temples and eating the traditional East Asian cuisine that she cooked in her home and even photo-shopped herself in the waters of Thailand.

She Skyped her family, making a room in her apartment with Laos as a backdrop. Her goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality, saying “everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated. But we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives.”

What can we learn from this story?

I believe that we should not always believe what we see in social media. So many people post things on social media to make their life seem more interesting. For example Photoshopping their bodies next to celebrities. Or posting pictures with family and friends to give the impression that they are living a great life.

Further reading:


Programming should be mandatory in elementary schools. Here’s why.

Sep 15, 2014   //   by Abdul   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Programming should be mandatory in elementary schools. Here’s why.

programming-code1Technology is one of the most important things in our lives today. It’s what keeps the world moving.

From finance to entertainment, technology has an immense presence in almost every aspect of our lives. This technology helps us check our bank balances on our phones or watch any movie from the comfort of our homes with a couple clicks on the computer.  Through the software that we can download on our computers and phones, we have an infinite number of opportunities.

Not only can you download many different types of software, you can use an Internet browser to browse billions of webpages, giving you more opportunities than you can imagine.

But who’s behind the software, websites and mobile phone applications? Well, it’s usually programmers.

Programmers play a huge role in the development and maintenance of our technology, and programming may soon be an essential part of every industry as more of our lives becomes digital, which is why it’s important for students to start learning programming from elementary school.

With technology in all aspects of our lives, programming will be needed with almost every job. Since it is such an essential part of our technology, programming should be something everyone knows.

Many high schools do have computer science classes, which teach the basics of programming, and these classes tend to be quite popular.

Programming in elementary schools would teach children how to make small yet efficient programs on the computer. Programming would also teach students basic problem-solving skills. Many students have trouble with problem-solving questions, and programming would teach students how to solve problems using their thinking skills.

Making programming a mandatory subject in elementary school has been a very popular topic of discussion for a while now, and as of this September elementary schools in England will incorporate programming. Although it’s too early to tell how incorporating programming will help students in England, we will be hearing more about it as time goes on.


Emily checks out The Percy Jackson book series

Aug 13, 2014   //   by Emily   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Emily checks out The Percy Jackson book series
Percy Jackson book series

Percy Jackson book series

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The Percy Jackson book series (5 books)

Why is it cool?
I think the Percy Jackson series is cool for a lot of reasons.

My first reason is because it is about demigods. Demigods are sons and daughters of gods. They have a tonne of exciting adventures.

Also, I loved the illustrations on the covers of the books. They made me wonder about what was inside, and helped me make predictions about the book I was reading.

Another reason why I think Percy Jackson series is cool is because they are full of surprises and you never know what is going to happen next!

When I am reading the Percy Jackson series I just can’t put the book I’m reading down. They are SO intriguing!

Is it educational?
Yes. It teaches kids about the wonderful world of Greek mythology.


Emily checks out Wii Party U for Wii U

Jul 16, 2014   //   by Emily   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Emily checks out Wii Party U for Wii U
Wii Party U for Wii U

Wii Party U for Wii U

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Wii Party U for Wii U

Why is it cool?
The main reason why Wii Party U is so cool is because it’s fun for the whole family. There are so many games for ages 3 – 93!

You can play on the game pad or on the TV screen. There is everything from baseball to zebra racing! You’ll never get sick of this game. You can play by yourself, or with up to three friends! You’ll never be bored again!!! ☺

All of the games are unique. For example, in one game you have to control a spiked ball to crush the other player, and in another game you have to complete a maze in order to make a cannon shoot at an enemy ship.

Wii Party U has over 50 fun games that you can play individually or in a tournament.

Is it educational?
Yes, many games require strategy, teamwork, and concentration.


Jahmari reviews X-Men: Days of Future Past

Jul 8, 2014   //   by Jahmari   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Jahmari reviews X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past

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X-Men: Days of Future Past
Directed by Bryan Singer


What’s cool!
X-Men: Days of Future Past was a great movie. It was full of action and had some really great 3D moments.

Something cool about the movie is that you get to see new characters. My favourite was Quick Silver (Evan Peters) he helps wolverine when he travels back in time to the 70s.

Also there are a lot of big named Hollywood actors in the movie like Hugh Jackman, Ellen Page, and Jennifer Lawrence is young Mystique in the movie.

Another cool thing about the movie is you see Dr. Xavier and Magneto as young men and get to find out why they don’t get along.

Did you know that most of X-Men was shot in Canada, Quebec to be specific.

Did you know that Bryan Singer directed Jack the Giant Slayer and Superman Returns.

The main point of X-Men: Days of Future Past is that the X-Men send Wolverine in to the past so he can change the future for mutants and humans and help Mystique to go down the right path.

I really like the X-Men movies because you get to see all the cool powers the mutants have and I like to think about what I would do if I had a super power.

Is it entertaining, educational or a little bit of both?
It is entertaining because it is a movie and movies are entertaining and it is a action movie so it is even more entertaining.

Singer is working on the next X-Men movie called Apocalypse, due to hit theatres in 2016. I can’t wait to see it.


The Kids' Panel

Meet our kids' panel: a savvy group of kids with a strong point of view about the media and the culture they consume. Culturally diverse, a range of age and interests, they'll provide you with an insight into kids' media ... what works, what doesn't and why. Check back often for new reviews. We think you'll be inspired! @storyartscentre