‘Uplift Harvey’ forces tough conversations with mayor, officials and students charged to making a difference

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CHICAGO (CBS) — We often hear the phrase "if you want to see change, do something about it."

Well, teenagers in the south suburbs went straight to elected leaders to voice issues in their communities, and as CBS 2’s Steven Graves shows us, they also gained ground on implementing solutions.

As Julia Blackwell was growing up in Harvey, she said something was missing.

"It hurts to just wake up and just look outside and not see anything happening."

No kids playing outside due to gun violence. There were vacant homes, people on the streets.

"As a teenager, I wouldn’t want to see myself in that type of position, so let’s make a change," Blackwell said.

And the change she’s making is bringing her concerns to federal, state and local leaders, like Harvey’s mayor Christopher Clark on Thursday.

"Will you assign staff to work with us and develop a more welcoming community," asked Blackwell.

"We have so many vacancies that remain unfilled because we can’t get qualified and competent staff to come and work," said Clark.

Other high schoolers from the city asked questions with data to support their concerns. They’ve been researching over the past months with the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, or CEDA, under an initiative called Uplift Harvey.

The city, one of nine communities nationwide, given $1.5 million dollars by Mobility LABs and The Robin Hood Foundation. The goal is to find solutions to fight issues related to poverty.

"I propose to you a gun amnesty program."

Abdul Ahad Vhora is petitioning politicians to give people the chance to turn in unwanted firearms without the fear of prosecution.

"I’d like to work with you on the gun amnesty program," said Illinois State Representative Will Davis (D-30.)

"It just showed me that I need to be the bigger person and speak up about these issues," Vhora said.

Many of these young people said their reasoning for speaking up is simple: they want to feel like they have the opportunity to stay and build a life. Something they said is not here right now.

For example, a new community center for youth activities. That idea was met with a lesson on money.

"We know we need to fix it, but nobody wants to give us the money to fix it," Clark said.

"I just want to walk away with the mayor having a thought of what kids are feeling right now,’ said Bremen High School sophomore Neamat Vhora.

An honest discussion. With youth leadership to enact change. The talk lasted for about an hour and a half. Some politicians promised to meet with students to talk further in the near future. 

News,Region: Chicago,City: Chicago

via Local News – CBS Chicago https://ift.tt/m3VTDnr

September 15, 2022 at 07:16PM

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