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“Inside the Bricks: Woodhill Homes” shares personal stories from one of the nation’s earliest public housing neighborhoods as it faces a complete rebuild.

Inside the Bricks - Episode 5: Go be brave

Kids make up nearly half the population of Woodhill Homes.
Justin Glanville
Ideastream Public Media
Kids make up nearly half the population of Woodhill Homes.

To me, kids are the sound of Woodhill Homes.

Visit on any given afternoon, and they're always filling the playgrounds outside (and these playgrounds remain open, unlike most others in the city). And the Community Center? After school in non-pandemic times, it's Kid Central — kids playing basketball, kids taking reading lessons with tutors, kids acting in plays.

And that’s not surprising, because almost half the residents of Woodhill Homes are 17 or younger.

Yes, half.

Woodhill Homes is what a lot of people call a “family estate.” That means it’s one of the neighborhoods where the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, or CMHA, gives priority for units to families with kids. Other properties, like the Riverview Tower on West 25th Street on Cleveland's West Side, are set aside for the elderly; others are equally open to all.

So anyone who wants to understand what Woodhill is really like has to talk to kids. That's exactly what I do in this episode of "Inside the Bricks: Woodhill Homes." And let me tell you — they are not one bit afraid of my microphone!

First, we drop in on a rehearsal of Cleveland Act Now (formerly Brick City Theatre). It’s a program where kids in public housing neighborhoods across the city work with artists from Cleveland Public Theatre to conceive and stage live shows. The goal is to get young people expressing themselves, working together, and letting them know their stories and voices are important.

Along the way, we hear some surprising things about what's on their minds as they think about their lives.

Then, I check on Sonny Graham, the busy 9-year-old (he's now 10) featured in our multimedia piece Sonny's Day from 2019. He and his mom tell me how life's changed in 2020.

Justin Glanville / Ideastream Public Media
Sonny Graham, who was 9 at the time, records narration at the ideastream studios in 2019.

I close by talking with two dads, Tywonge Watkins and Puma Prince, who reflect on fatherhood and give me some tips on baby showers and kid fashion.

Copyright 2022 WCPN. To see more, visit WCPN.

Justin Glanville is the deputy editor of engaged journalism at Ideastream Public Media.