Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison (D-15th) met with about 200 students during two in-person town halls to hear how students think federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars should be spent.
The American Rescue Plan will deliver $1 billion in direct aid to Cook County. Schools and municipalities are receiving separate American Rescue Plan aid packages.
Morrison’s office sent to Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle all the feedback it received on ARPA funding at the late August town halls, community events, round tables, and a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” discussion.
Morrison, who lives in and grew up in Elk Grove Village, said he was surprised by the amount of participation among students, but said he was not surprised by the ideas students presented, nor their depth of understanding on the issues.
“I was humbled by the views and insights of students as they said how they would like these dollars spent,” Morrison said. He said he was aware some advanced civics classes prepared questions as part of class assignments.
Several themes came up repeatedly in the two town halls, each with about 100 students in attendance. Morrison said mental health, infrastructure and transportation were recurring themes. Out of 19 questions asked by students in the two town halls, six addressed issues of mental health. Another issue students brought up was support for entrepreneurship and small businesses.
“One brilliant idea one young adult suggested was expanding mental health services in the Northwest suburbs using the (Elk Grove Village-based) Kenneth Young Center model. As I believe, when people enter the Kenneth Young Center, they are met with people showing empathy and making them feel comfortable, so that brings a culture of compassionate, empathetic care,” Morrison said.
Morrison said he spoke with Elk Grove High School officials before and after the town halls. He said he was told more counselors are being made available to students dealing with COVID-19 pandemic-related stress.
Another issue brought up in the town halls was one of transportation infrastructure, calling for improvements in public transit, including buses and even light rail, and improving available public transit between Elk Grove High School and the Des Plaines community, Morrison said.
Other transportation infrastructure projects high schoolers wanted to be addressed include bicycle transportation infrastructure.
via Journal Online
September 6, 2021 at 04:30PM