Meet an IndyKids Reporter… Aida El-Hajjar, age 12

Twelve-year-old Aida lives in Milwaukee, Wis., and is a seventh-grader at Maryland Montessori School. She strives to help others and to try and make the world we live in a better place. Aida is keeping her options open for future career choices but knows that whatever she does, it will be rooted in writing, art and social justice. It is her goal to inform, educate and bring awareness to issues that are routinely ignored by those in power. 

What motivated you to become a kid journalist?

I know how much news impacts me, so I think it is important that young people get a chance to read “real” news that is truthful. I like writing for IndyKids because I learn so much about the process of writing. I hope that my articles will be read by young people everywhere.

What advice do you have for kids who want to start writing?

Writing can seem intimidating at first. I was intimidated by writing at first. But what I have figured out is that words have so much power. If you learn how to use words effectively, then you can have an impact on this world. So don’t be scared of writing; get a pen, a pencil (or these days a computer) and write. Never be afraid of words, because the power they contain can transform our world!

Why do you think social justice news reporting is important? 

The way I understand the term “social justice” is that it contains the truth about the past combined with fixing some of the injustices of the present. So, social justice news is really just the kind of news that we should all be ingesting. Biased news can lead to people becoming ill-informed, and ultimately perpetuating inequities in our society. 

What topics do you most enjoy writing about and/or feel most passionate about?

I have very strong opinions about many issues, but a topic that I continue to follow and write about is the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which is an oil pipeline built through a Native American reservation. I was introduced to this topic while writing an article for IndyKids, and I have since written several other articles about DAPL for my school. I have avidly followed this topic for many years, not only as a journalist, but also because I find such hope in their resistance. I see parallels in Native American resistance and the resistance of indigenous Palestinians on their occupied lands, which are also my ancestral lands. Despite major obstacles, people who have justice on their side always find ways to resist oppression. I find a lot of hope in that.

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