By Andria Hollis
What is a citizen? What makes a good citizen? And, how can we become more engaged citizens? These are just a few of the questions discussed this week at Kid Power’s Summer Leadership Academy at Watkins Elementary School. Believing that we all have the power to be the agents of change in our lives, Kid Power’s Citizenship Curriculum is focused on providing students with helpful information on their rights and responsibilities as citizens, as well familiarizing students with the vocabulary that often accompanies discussions about citizenship and democracy. When asked “What makes a responsible citizen?” students came up with thoughtful answers such as, “caring about each other”, “not littering”, and “not committing crimes”.
After solidifying how a good citizen acted, we moved on to the concept of advocacy, discussing what being an advocate meant and entailed. Students were then asked to come up with issues in their neighborhoods they wished to advocate for. By asking students to think critically about their own neighborhoods, Kid Power helps to empower students to stand up against issues that affect them. Some insightful issues discussed included: having more recycling cans in their neighborhoods; improving neighborhood relations with the police; and helping to eliminate homelessness in the District.
This summer, each class will choose one topic they can advocate for. For example, students in the Art Club chose to focus their advocacy project on raising awareness about childhood cancer. Students will then learn about their chosen cause and plan a service-learning project based on the advocacy methods they’ve learned at the Summer Leadership Academy (e.g. letter writing to government officials, PSAs, protests, boycotts). By providing information on advocacy methods, we hope that students will leave with a better understanding of how to affect change in the world!