Students at Tilden School are doing amazing advocacy work for the rights of homeless and unaccompanied youth! Students in Ms.Totske’s first hour class began this service project by learning about homeless issues. The students talked with one another about the challenges experienced by homelessness youth, and their own concerns for their neighborhood. When the students were asked what they would say about these issues to someone in power, one student said, “I would want them to understand that people don’t have anything, and I believe that they can make a change only if we help them.” Empowered with new information about issues surrounding homelessness as well as a better understanding of Illinois government, Tilden students prepared to meet with their State Senator.
To get a meeting with Senator Hunter, the students first practiced making phone calls to the senator’s office. They were a little nervous at first, but eventually were incredibly confident. The senator agreed to meet with the students! On January 30, at 9:30 a.m., these sophomore students excitedly boarded the bus to Senator Hunter’s office. Ms. Hunter was warm and friendly while she met with the group in a large conference room and talked to them about her involvement in the community. She also listened to their concerns about homeless youth and agreed that more funding and programming needs to be available. Each student had a role in the meeting that morning, and each participated in the political process. It was inspiring to hear students speaking to a State Senator with an almost 10 year tenure in Illinois politics. It was definitely an amazing opportunity for the Tilden Students...and for Senator Hunter!
Tilden students and their teacher, Ms. Totske, partnered with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless on this project. Their work is not done. On April 18, 2012, the students will travel to Springfield to continue their advocacy efforts on behalf of homeless youth in Chicago and around Illinois.