Youth Radio: Lessons From Walking To Work

Sep 2, 2016

This story is part of WUNC's 2016 Youth Reporting Institute, an annual summer program that teaches young people how to tell stories about their community in their own voice.

Meet: Julio Olmos Arredondo
Age: 17

Most people wouldn't walk to work in Durham, North Carolina. But I did. My name is Julio. I’m 17, and in the summer, I worked as part of WUNC’s Youth Radio Reporting Institute. For my story, I decided to walk to work with my radio mentor, Allison Swaim.
I live with my mom, dad and sister on a quiet street in North Durham. My family has a toy poodle named Cinderella and a mutt named Caboose. We start our walk at my house.

This walk takes about an hour and 32 minutes, the quickest route, but that depends on how fast we walk.

"Usually when people walk they start off really fast or faster than normal and then they slow down into a good pace. I think we're going to start of slow cause it’s hot and get even slower," I said.

2016 Summer Reporting Intern Julio Olmos-Arredondo interviews WUNC Youth Radio Mentor Kamaya Truitt-Martin.
Credit Allison Swaim / WUNC

Cars zoomed by on the day we walked to work, and it's 90 degrees. By the time we get to the end of my street, I'm already sweating.
"I feel like the summer heat is a crime against humanity," I said.
We're on Guess Road for a lot of the walk and it's full of traffic. Cars, trucks and buses roar by.

"I am under a bridge! There's no sun, no heat, it's really cool," I said. "I just walked by a bunch of houses with trees...very nice shade. Only bad thing is it’s trash days because Fourth of July, so the dumpsters are out. It smells like rotting, putrid, decaying fish. That awful fish smell."

The sun keeps beating down on us.

Wishing we had something to drink
The only oasis in the summer heat is the nice AC of the gas station where we take refuge, about 45 minutes into our walk.

 There are at least 10 different flavors of Gatorade, but I know exactly which one I want – Cool Blue.
The cash register rings but unfortunately, paradise isn’t forever and we're already running late. We have to get back to the walk.

Dad walked to school, too

My parents grew up in Mexico. As a kid, my dad had to walk to and from school every day.

"When we went to school, the school was a little ways from the house," my dad, Julio Olmos Muñiz, said.
He tells me his friends walked too, and they would join him. As they got closer and closer to school, the group of kids got bigger and bigger.
"The whole way to school was an adventure," he said.
My dad told me that once he was walking to school after it rained. He stepped on a rock to get over a puddle, but the rock was a turtle and it moved. My dad fell in and all of his books got wet.
"The rock was a turtle and it moved," he said laughing. "I fell in the water."
My dad walked because he had to. His only other way to get to school was the bike, but he shared the bike with his brother.
Walking was normal for my dad when he was my age. But for me to get to downtown Durham, it's no simple walk. Compared to my dad's hometown, Durham is massive.
I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be late for work. I called my supervisor at work.
"Hey Kamaya. So... I'm gonna be a bit late," I told her.
 We are late, and we're very sweaty, but we finally made it.
"Oh my gosh that feels amazing," I said as I walked into the office. "No heat."
Next time, I'm getting a ride from my mom.