Written by: Members of the Youth Senate, a Program of the Youth Empowerment Project at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor
Over the last five years, the Youth Senate has focused on raising awareness in their schools and communities about global poverty issues. The Fight Poverty in Africa Project is the primary example of their efforts.
This year, the Action Senate at Pioneer High School has decided to interface their prior work from the Africa Project with an in-depth look at local poverty, particularly how it effects youth and the rates of homelessness. Pioneer students are preparing to give an interactive classroom presentation on the impact of poverty on the people in our local community. Huron is continuing to use the Africa Project framework to increase awareness of youth in poverty among African nations and will do similar classroom presentations.
The students believe in a form of grassroots campaigning that is more effective than simply broadcasting a message across the P.A. They believe that by going from class to class, although this is tedious, they will be able to most effectively convey the message and urgency of the fight against local poverty. This is because the level of interaction that comes out of an in-class presentation is far greater because the presenters and audience are peers. The presenters are there to answer questions, to explain confusing details, or to simply show the audience that they themselves have dedicated this time and effort to an important cause. For these reasons, the in-class presentations have always been a tradition of the Youth Action Senate’s fight against poverty campaigns.
Pioneer students this year have decided to shift the focus from Africa to Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County because they believe students will be able to relate easier to things that happen close to their homes, as opposed to a continent on the other side of the world. Furthermore, the majority of the high school population is presumably unaware of the severity of the poverty issue in the greater Ann Arbor area. The Youth Action Senate at Pioneer believes students will be able to make a more effective contribution to solving these problems if they are more educated and informed about them in both local and global terms.
In order to best serve the needs of the community, it is necessary to get a first-hand look at poverty and how others around the city are helping to fight it. The students are now also using the Youth Action Senate to organize volunteer opportunities for themselves. They have already spent the past two Saturdays remodeling homes with the Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley and will help distribute food and winter clothing to the homeless each Friday night. Volunteering events are being set up and listed on our homepage at www.youthempowerment.com. All students are welcome to sign up for any volunteer opportunities they are interested in.
For more information about the Youth Empowerment Project, click here: http://www.youthempowerment.com/