From accountability meetings with mayors to the creation of a transformative framework for just schools, young people are building power across the state. Read on below to get up-to-speed on some of their current campaigns.
Hearing Youth Voices, “Schools That Work for Us”
Hearing Youth Voices (HYV) has been pushing for the transformation of New London schools, making them more just, accountable to, and safe for the students who attend them through their “Schools that Work For Us” framework. Developed in 2018, the themes of “The Struggle”, “Collective Power”, “Relationships”, “Freedom to Move”, “Full Safety”, “Mental Health”, “Teaching & Learning”, “Resources” came together after 6 years of campaigning around individual issues around school discipline or attendance. With the data and experience that had been collected, HYV recognized that all of these various “slices” needed to be considered collectively. For more information on “Schools that Work For Us”, visit the Hearing Youth Voices website.
Another victory Hearing Youth Voices has won this past year is the institution of the first-ever ethnic studies class at New London High School, which launched in January 2019, it is now the highlight of many students’ academic experiences and has been broadly embraced by the student body.
C4D “Live Unafraid”
CT Students for a Dream’s current campaign, “#LiveUnafraid” centers the voices and needs of immigrant communities in Connecticut. With 5 key pillars, “Immigration Rights, Healthcare Access, Education Equity, Racial Justice, and Gender Justice”, the goal of this campaign is to identify and achieve the fundamental needs of Connecticut’s immigrant community making it possible for them to “live lives free from fear”. For more information on C4D’s work as well as their current campaign, visit their Facebook and read Youth Lead Organizer Angelica Idrovo Costovo’s interview on her experience organizing around college access and immigration justice.
Make the Road CT
Make the Road CT’s Youth Power Committee has been working on their “Walking to a Brighter Future” campaign that is determined to transform the transportation and education systems to make them more accountable to the needs of Bridgeport’s students. Currently a significant percentage of students have to walk long distances on poorly lit, unsafe streets. Without dependable access to buses, and with very few students qualifying for bus passes, many young people are late for school and receive detention or are kept out of class as a punishment, ultimately having a severely negative impact on graduation rates and overall learning for students who are at a transportation disadvantage. Click here to read PFF’s interview with Make the Road CT’s Tania and Alison who explain the necessity of the campaign and the impact their victory will have on the youth of Bridgeport.
Recently, the Youth Power Committee achieved their long-fought for meeting with Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim to present petitions signed on behalf of the campaign as well as the research that informed it. Mayor Ganim did commit to discussing public transportation for Bridgeport’s students as well as supporting Streetscapes that ensure walking students’ safety, however in the words of high school student and Youth Power Committee member Flor Huerta, “If city officials are truly committed to make the next generation better, they need to listen to us. We want better. We need better. And we need it now!”
Click here to read the full statement released in August that details the Youth Power Committee’s responses to the Mayor’s reversal of the distance requirements and their future plans for the campaign.