AURORA -- Sharing the accomplishments of others has become a way for life for Ashley Foster, a sophomore at Aurora High.

Every other week, she and a small team of area teens produce a short segment for WKYC's "We the People," which airs on Fridays at noon.

Ashley is part of the Can You Hear It? teen council, and she and several others work together to produce news segments featuring area students.

"As of right now, we have a very small teen council," said Ashley. "We're actually looking for more students to add to it."

Ashley's mom, Melissa Foster, is an AHS Spanish teacher, and she also is one of two teachers for the school's service learning course, which focuses on community service.

"I think she has a lot of my spirit in giving back to the community," said Melissa about her daughter.

Melissa said it's difficult to find teens who are truly devoted to the cause of producing videos every other week.

"They do a lot," she said. "They are juggling academics and sports and jobs and family obligations. To make a full-time commitment to any of those is very daunting, but it's a part of life."

Ashley said she wants to make the most of the opportunity. "I've learned about being responsible," she said. "I'm the one setting up interviews and stuff. I'm very driven because this is such a wonderful opportunity with WKYC."

She works with students from Solon, Cleveland public schools, Orange Middle School and Horizon Academy.

Can You Hear It? was founded in the last several months by Justin Bachman and his mother Lisa Bachman of Solon, but Justin is now in college, so Ashley said she spearheads the teen council's features.

"He's very involved with his service in college," she said. "He's a broadcast journalism major at Syracuse, so he's been a really big source of information for us. He gives us tips on how to do things so the format is right for the show."

The program grew out of Bachman's "Different Like You," which he founded in 2010 as a way of "inspiring young people to be proud of the things that make them who they truly are," he states on the organization's webpage.

Ashley said finding students to feature is a challenge. "We're always looking for new stories and nominations," she said, adding she's contacted area principals in hopes they'll nominate deserving students.

The group began producing features Jan. 13 when it told the story of Western Reserve Academy student Paul Schumacher, who designs what he calls "star rooms" for people with autism.

"He created a high-tech sensory room for those on the autism spectrum," said Ashley. "He designed it, and he builds them in schools for free. When he builds them in people's homes, he makes a profit, and with the money he builds them in schools."

Another story the teen council shared was about Aurora students Eva Logan and Hailey Kulawiak, who started a dress drive for a local dance, said Ashley.

She said the teen council works with a nice video camera, microphone and tripod. It edits using Apple's iMovie video editing software.

Since beginning the segment, Ashley has developed an interest in broadcast journalism.

"I do a lot of theater, and I like to work with people with disabilities," she said. "This has also made me think of broadcast journalism. I definitely have an interest in this path."

For now, Ashley said she wants to strengthen Can You Hear It? by developing a mission statement, raising funds and planning events around the organization.

She said she's "very involved in trying to get more teens to volunteer because it's very beneficial to the economy in the community. I've learned that you're never too young to start making a difference in the world."


Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4188

Twitter: @bobgaetjens_rpc

Facebook: Bob Gaetjens