By Peter Levine, “Creating Good Citizens,” Huffington Post, June 10, 2011
Today, educators and young people from around the country are meeting in Chicago for the first National Action Civics Conference. These are people who know that teenagers become good citizens — and improve their schools and communities — when they are given the chance to contribute.
Chicago is a natural site for the conference because it is a hotbed of constructive youth engagement. Consider the Gage Park High School students who successfully lobbied for a digital memorial — a public touch-screen kiosk — to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1966 march through their neighborhood. Those students were participants in the Mikva Challenge, a Chicago nonprofit that Education Secretary Arne Duncan cites as a leading example of “cutting-edge civics.”
Similarly, as a result of a grant from my organization, CIRCLE, teenagers in the Cabrini-Green area documented their neighborhood in public videos through a grassroots organization called Cabrini Connections.
Neutral Ground is a multimedia center in Humboldt Park, operated by yet another nationally recognized nonprofit, Street-Level Media. Young people between 8 and 22 meet at Neutral Ground to create journalism, music, animation, and photography for their communities.
These programs and many like them take advantage of young people’s creativity, media savvy, and knowledge of their own communities. They help the kids by giving them creative outlets, skills, and networks. These are important at any time, but…
Read the full article at Huffington Post.