MPW.69 / 2017 Teen Tribe by Victoria Sarno Jordan
Victoria Sarno Jordan Buenos Aires, Argentina
Team Cox

Recipient of the Team Cox Award
Story Summary

At a defining moment in their lives, this group of teenagers and young adults living in Eldon, Missouri navigate through challenges together and rely on each other like brothers and sisters, when their biological families and outside support are lacking. Whether it’s hanging out at the local McDonald’s, biking around town or walking the streets at night, they do so as a tribe, and are owners of their futures.

Billy Williams, 17, hopes to become a nurse. Yet he faces a daily struggle with depression, drug use and discrimination for his homosexuality. Being gay in a predominantly homogeneous, white community amplifies these factors to the point he feels the need to drop out of school. Chelsea, 18, says she began using drugs after a miscarriage when she was 16. She was in jail for drug possession, and and must now wear a drug patch which she changes every week, each one costing $55. Her father died from a heroin and meth overdose when she was 9, an event that remains painful to her today.

Chris Vanderpool, 32, was diagnosed with testicular and colon cancer, yet doesn’t seek treatment since he’s devoted to taking care of his mother, also battling cancer. “I’m devoted to her,” he said. “After she passes, that’s it for me.”