LAKEVIEW – Amiria Andrews, a senior at Lake View High School, thought it would be easy to use $ 10,000 to beautify the campus with outdoor seating.
But like everything that goes through the city, it turned out to be much more complicated.
“At first I just thought we were going to order the picnic tables and boom, we would be done,” Andrews said. “But it turns out it’s quite a process. When I think about it, I realize now that this is what it takes to build parks and things like that. It got me thinking and realizing that I still need a plan and a process before I do something like this.
Andrews and his classmates were part of Ald. Matt Martin’s outreach program in the 47th Ward to engage youth in the participatory budgeting process, where residents can vote on how to spend discretionary funding for their areas. It is an effort by the alderman to help young people become more civically engaged.
For the Lake View students, Martin’s office worked with principals and UIC Institute of Large Cities transform the process into a civic education program so that students learn more about local governance. Josh Mark, Martin’s director of development and infrastructure, and the alderman virtually met the students “to educate them on menu money, how participatory budgeting works and how infrastructure is financed as a whole, ”said Mark.
Kathleen Mahoney, civic education teacher at Lake View, said it was a great opportunity for young people to meet with their city councilor and other city officials and ask local leaders to seriously think about their ideas.
“They learn more about the Constitution of the United States and they learn a lot about the federal government. But I just love that they can extend what they’ve learned to that because the change is happening locally, ”Mahoney said. “And with opportunities like these, students can really step in and be that change.”
After learning about the process, the students presented ideas for improvements to the school. They soon learned that some of their proposals weren’t feasible or too expensive for the $ 10,000, Mark said.
The students then thought of some type of outdoor seating for the students and the public. It gained the most traction, Andrews said.
“Once that was done, we decided to do a school poll so that everyone, teachers and students, could vote on what kind of seat this could be. Once we gathered enough data, we made an overall decision to buy picnic tables and then from there we looked at the available models and made sure they were on budget. we had, ”Andrews said.
The voting process – and the government’s navigation to get the tables to a publicly accessible section of the campus – allowed Andrews and his classmates to take a close look at how the city works, she said. declared.
The outdoor tables are not yet ready as the proposal is still being reviewed by the building engineer and other CPS departments for installation.
Martin’s office launches another opportunity for young people interested in local governance.
High school students can register for the One-Day Youth Organizing Summit on August 10 at Chase Park. Students will network with local organizations, develop their community organizing skills, and learn more about issues facing Chicago.
Students can also participate in workshops led by local community organizers, meet elected officials from across town, attend a panel discussion of elected officials, organizers and activists, and attend a networking fair to connect with local groups.
“We will also be organizing activities such as political memes workshops and protest art workshops,” said Andi Aguilar, deputy director of constituent services at the 47th Ward.
The deadline to register is Sunday. Find more information here.
Last year, Martin and Alds. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd) and Andre Vasquez (40th) offered a two-month summer program so that students could sit down with elected officials to see what city policy making looks like.
The August Youth Summit is the next phase of that awareness, Aguilar said.
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