Polaris Charter Academy, Chicago
Carrie Moy and Francesca Peck, 7th Grade
Violence has been taking over the streets and we were just being bystanders. Gun violence had increased, and we need to put a stop to it. The 7th grades decided to take a stand. We were learning about the second amendment, and how people have the right to bear arms, but people were taking advantage of that. This affected us because people are using guns inappropriately, and have violated other people rights. Every day we wake up to hear the news reporter talk about another tragic story of an innocent death caused by gun violence. We felt hurt that innocent lives are being taken every day for worthless reasons. We also have experienced violence in our lives, and we know other individuals have suffered losing a close friend or family member to gun violence. We need to interrupt the cycle of gun violence before it reaches us. We chose the direct action of creating a PSA because we thought that if would go viral, get our point across, and because people can make a change.
Polaris 7th graders are working on having one day of peace where there is no violence for 24 hours. In addition we are trying to organize communities to have a Sweep and Greet where you can clean your neighborhood and get to know your neighbors. We are also working on getting alternatives for young adults so they won’t make the wrong choices in life. These alternatives keep youth busy, so they won’t have time to get involved with the wrong things. On June 9th, we are organizing a Sweep and Greet. This Sweep and Greet will lower violence because when you clean up in our community it will attract people that want to live in a community or block that is nice, clean, and safe. The Greet is so no one in your community is a stranger. Together you can clean up your community. We will also be publishing a book on peacekeepers. The purpose of our book is to inform others in our community about the hard work our peacekeepers do to stop the violence.
What We Did
We care about our community and we noticed other people do to! A local high school in our community called Westinghouse noticed that they are affected by the same situations as us and wanted to help do something about it. So we partnered up with the seniors. They helped us with filming our scenarios, editing our PSAs and also act in the scenarios that we created. We contacted peacekeepers that we knew about in our community that want the violence to end and asked them to be a part of our project. Westinghouse let us use their equipment to make the interviews more professional. We took sound bites out of the interviews with our peacekeepers to put in our PSAs. We also used the interviews to write biographical sketches about our peacekeepers for a book that we are working on which will be called “Peacekeepers Of Chicago”.
The skills we have developed working on this project is learning to work together in a group and combine ideas to make an even stronger message. Another very important skill we gained is coming up with questions to use when interviewing our Peacekeepers. We know it’s important to have as a skill because later on we know we will be the ones being interviewed. As we researched we learned that gun violence has been decreasing which is very surprising. This helped us by showing us we need to take notice of the world we live. We now know that when trying to create a change in the community it’s better to take direct action because people can do then they think. We learned kids can make change even if at first it doesn’t seem like it. This is helpful to us because we can easily observe problems happening, but we never quite had the confidence that we can change the problem. Not anymore. Even after this project has ended we will make sure not to abandon this problem until we have solved it.