A Powerful Web Voice for Teens

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The next time you log on to the Internet, after you check out fox4kc.com, bypass Facebook and Twitter for a change and go to KCteenlink.org. It's an exciting new social media website that's also an online support network for Kansas City teenagers. And the creators responsible for it are this week's FOX 4 Reaching 4 Excellence Young Achievers.

"I've done a few changes here we've tried to accomplish," says web designer Thaddeus O'Brien of TAO Designs, LLC in Merriam, Kan. in a meeting not long ago with a trio of metro area teenagers.

They are young entrepreneurs, putting finishing touches on a project they have been dreaming about and spending countless hours on for many months.

"Being an entrepreneur is a big responsibility," says Joseph Belcher, Junior. "You have to take a lot of risks. But you have to want it. And if you're a leader, it's something you strive to do every day." Joseph and his fellow F.L Schlagle High School students Kenan Meadows and Marcus Sheppard spearheaded the development and completion of KCteenlink.org after two Schlagle students who graduated in 2011 got the website project underway.

"It just makes me feel proud," says Kenan. "I always wanted to grow up and have something to look back on and to know I did something, maybe make history. Who knows?"

KCteenlink.org is now up and running. It's a website by and for Kansas City teens to connect with each other and with experts in frank and honest ways on issues important to metro area youth -- Careers, Health, Education, Technology, Fashion and Real Talk.

"Under Entertainment, we have Art and Design, Video, Games and Music," says Kenan as he demonstrated the Entertainment page of KCteenlink.org.

The website also will engage teens in entertainment and enables them to submit there own creative works for exhibition on the site.

"Being an entrepreneur for me, I could do it because I want to make money," says Marcus. "But it's more because I want to help people out. With this website, it's mainly wanting to make my footprint in my community." K

Cteenlink.org already is attracting a lot of positive response from entrepreneur boosters. For instance, the students recently got a $5,000 grant and $5,000 annual college scholarship offers from McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas by winning the not-for-profit category of the Jump Start Kansas competition, which McPherson College sponsors. The competition challenges high school students in Kansas to come up with workable ideas for entrepreneurial ventures in either commercial or non-profit categories.

"We're super proud of them," says Sally Dannov who has been a mentor for the Schlagle students as they created KCteenlink.org as their project for a bi-state youth development organization called 20/20 Leadership. Dannov is program administrator for 20/20 Leadership.

"They have a confidence and a spirit you don't always see across the world in teenagers," says Dannov. "These guys have definitely stepped up to the challenge and have really wanted to carry this forth." They are risk-taking young entrepreneurs dedicated to community -- stepping up to give their peers and themselves a powerful voice on The Web.

Schlagle High student Cha'vez Gaitain was also part of the KCteenlink.org creative team. And 2011 Schlagle graduates Curtis Smart and Kaleb Berry were the founding creators. As the website moves forward, the Schlagle team has invited peers from ACE, Lincoln Prep, Paseo Academy and University Academy to help build KCteenlink.org into a metropolitan wide resource.

FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for

Reaching 4 Excellence every Monday on FOX 4 News at 8 a.m., every Wednesday on FOX 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on FOX 4 News at 5 p.m.

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