MARQUETTE - The Upper Peninsula Children's Museum's 8-18 Media program is celebrating its 20th anniversary of publication this year.
In 1993 the U.P. Children's Museum created a program for children from 8 years old to 18 years old to produce stories for print media by working out of the U.P. Children's News Bureau.
The programs first articles were printed in The Mining Journal. In 1994, the bureau became an affiliate of Children's Express, an international organization based in Washington D.C.
From left, 8-18 Media members Gregorious Mihalopoulos and Will Guter discuss a story idea with program director Dennis Whitley. 8-18 Media is operated out of the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum in Marquette. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
"The kids are not journalists in training," said Dennis Whitley, director of 8-18 Media. "It's to get the kids more involved in community and give kids a voice in the community."
In June 2001, the Children's Express WorldWide Board of Directors voted to close the organization's doors due to financial difficulties, only one year after taking the program over. In August 2001, the U.P. Children's Museum Board of Directors unanimously voted to re-adopt the bureau into the museum's programming giving it the name 8-18 Media.
"This news agency is by kids for adults," Whitley said. "We get the kids' views out to the adults."
Throughout the 20 years, children participating in the program have gone to Democratic and Republican National Conventions and have covered speeches by former President George W. Bush and President Barak Obama when they addressed the city of Marquette.
They have also interviewed former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and current Gov. Rick Snyder on multiple occasions.
Gregorios Mihalopoulos, 12, of Marquette is one of the children that got to participate in covering a Republican National Convention last year. Mihalpoulos said covering the convention has been his favorite event or issue to cover so far.
"Depsite the fact that there was a hurricane, it was actually quite fun (to cover)," Mihalpoulos said. "We got to see lots of local people, Chris Chirstie speak and Mitt Romney's brother."
Mihalopoulos has been apart of 8-18 Media since he was around 9 years old when he joined the program.
"I thought (8-18 Media) would be a wonderful experience and it has," Mihalopoulos said. "I've done stories that I would have otherwise never have known if it weren't for this program."
Mihalopoulos said one of his favorite parts about the program is that he gets to meet a lot of new people. Will Guter, 12, of Marquette was one of those new people he met through the program. Guter joined 8-18 Media as soon as he could.
"I wanted to join because my sister was already in the program," Guter said. "She seemed to have a lot of fun, so I wanted to join. And when I joined I found it was really fun, so I stayed in."
Guter said one of his favorite parts about the program is some of the travel trips that the children get to go on because he gets to see new places and learn new things.
Guter went to the Democratic National Convention last year for a travel trip and his favorite part about that was getting to see Obama speak.
"It's just amazing to see somebody who's leading our whole country," Guter said. "To actually see them live is just kind of a moving experience."
Both Guter and Mihalopoulos plan on staying in 8-18 Media until they age out, but neither are seriously considering a journalism career, yet both boys recommend the program to other children.
To join the program, those interested can participate in one of the three training session 8-18 Media holds throughout the year or they can contact Whitley at the U.P. Children's Museum at 226-3911 or at firstname.lastname@example.org For more information on 8-18 Media, visit upchildrensmuseum.com.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is email@example.com.