Students at Chicago’s Tilden Career Academy, 4747 S. Union, are doing amazing advocacy work for the rights of homeless and unaccompanied youth! Ms. Erika Totske’s first-hour class began this service project by learning about homeless issues from several leaders on the CCH Speakers Bureau. 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 already 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 the Illinois government, the students prepared to meet with their state senator.
To arrange a meeting with State Sen. Mattie Hunter, the students practiced making phone calls to the senator’s office. They were a little nervous at first, but eventually were incredibly confident – and the senator agreed to meet with the students!
On Monday, Jan. 30, at 9:30 a.m., a group of 10 sophomores excitedly boarded the bus to Sen. Hunter’s office. Sen. 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 youths, including unaccompanied teens in high school, 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 a 10-year tenure in Illinois politics. It was definitely an amazing opportunity for the Tilden students – and for Senator Hunter!
– Elizabeth Brice, Trinity Christian College senior & Speakers Bureau intern