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Brooklyn Park rec center uplifts teen voices by literally broadcasting their voices

The rec center also serves as a recording studio for up-and-coming teen talent.

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — Back in July of 2022, a 12-year-old boy was shot and injured outside the Zanewood Rec Center in Brooklyn Park. Since then, the community has been looking for ways to heal and that's how a podcast made by kids, for kids came to be.

A rec center can be many things.

"We provide field trips and learning opportunities, and we just help the kids grow better here," Zanewood Rec Center youth specialist Cordell Isaw said.

But at Zanewood, they're focused on fostering creativity. They say they like to put teens in the zone, especially inside the recording studio. 

"I get people asking me if it was really me on the recording...and I say yeah," Fayth Wicklund said. 

Wicklund, a Brooklyn Park teen who is home-schooled, said Zanewood is where she comes to meet people and to play music. She plays multiple instruments and sings. 

On this day, Wicklund brought her acoustic guitar along. She's recently been recording covers at Zanewood, with the help of Isaw.

"Actually having it done in a studio feels a lot different; it feels a lot more professional...it feels definitely a lot more out there," Wicklund said. 

"We got them in here and they're good, they're really good," Isaw said with a big smile. "They are talented. We have singers, rappers."

They're no short of storytellers either. Some teenagers are just not shy about putting themselves out there. 

The kids behind 'The Wood' podcast are examples. 

"[it's a] teenagers' point of view of how we live life and how we grew up," Fanta Komara said.

Komara and Ellayah Smith, are a part of the cohort behind 'The Wood.' There are several other teens involved, as well as the host Bruce Williams. 

"Welcome to The Wooooooood where we let the youth pick the topic, the questions and I pick their brains," every episode begins. 

The series is all about being a kid, tackling topics from food, to family. 

"It was nice for an adult to hear it from a kid's perspective-- multiple kids too, we're all talking about it," Komara said.

'The Wood' is also another platform on which they can all relate.

"To feel like whatever you're going through alone, to feel like you're not the only one going through that experience," Smith added.

Which at Zanewood, is the point. To embrace the kids who find their way there with open arms and open hearts.

"Our point is to have the kids have a better place, to be at that they don't have be on the streets," Isaw explained. "They can come here and talk to us, we're another ear for the kids."

You can catch 'The Wood' on the Brooklyn Park city's website or on other podcast streaming platforms like Spotify.

The city invests back into the kids by also paying them for appearances per episode.

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