In February, ECHS 11th graders were charged with planning and orchestrating Community Forums in Hawthorne, Lawndale, South LA/Inglewood, and Gardena. The students invited the communities for a “town hall” event in which they discussed critical problems within the communities and facilitated group brainstorming sessions to collectively explore how these issues could be transformed.
Hawthorne City Councilwoman Olivia Valentine attended the Hawthorne Community Forum and was so impressed that she invited the students to attend the next City Council meeting to present their results. The City of Inglewood followed suit, and will be hosting the students at their Council meeting later this month.
The students have been “totally blown away” by the results of their efforts. They never expected to have such a big impact.
Evidently, these Community Forums are an invaluable and important learning experience for the students. Not only do they get to practice and hone various real world skills such as collaborative teamwork, event planning and production, and consensus building, but also get to be youth leaders effecting real change in their communities!
The success of these forums can be largely attributed to the students’ approach. They did not go in with a list of problems, asking for ideas about how to solve them. Instead they worked along side their community to identify problems and solutions. All the ideas were generated by the community members who attended the forums. At the end of one of the forums, a student said, “If we can get people to be heard, we can get them to take action.” Spoken like a true 11th grader!
These forums gave attendees a voice, made them feel more connected with the community, motivated them to take action that will transform their community to be a better place for themselves and their families to live in– now and in the future.
ECS students, you inspire us!