Program Updates

OAV students learn how a few citizens can make a difference in their community

OAV middle school students experienced safety risks at a pedestrian crossing in their Chicago neighborhood. So they wrote to and visited their local Aldermanic Offices (47th & 50th wards) to voice their concerns.

“We tried to choose the issue that stood out to us most, that we thought was the most important. For example, getting a stop sign on Washtenaw and Arthur. This is the route to school for many neighborhood kids. There have been at least three accidents at that intersection in the past three months! That’s too many. So we petitioned to get a stop sign installed.” Sequoia

Met with a challenge to their request for a pedestrian crossing sign and stop sign, these young citizens applied their web navigations skills to research municipal ordinances and state law to become informed advocates for their community.

“We learned that the city has some complex guidelines for installing signs to contribute to pedestrian safety. For example, marked crosswalks alone are insufficient at midblock crossing locations on 4 lane roadways where average daily traffic counts exceed 12,000 vehicles. Also, adding a stop sign requires getting a law passed! We also learned a lot of our local laws about pedestrian crossing. For example, a pedestrian has the right of way even in an unmarked crosswalk” Evelyn

Canvasing their neighborhood to secure petition signatures [90% of resident signatures within a three block radius of the proposed safety signs], the OAV student team had the opportunity to build relationships with neighbors of diverse cultures and languages. And they discovered their common values to improve their community.

“we met a lot of residents who didn’t speak English and were hesitant to sign, so that was a little challenging.” Evelyn


Empowered by collaborating with their community and elected officials, these OAV students want others to know

“Knowledge of civics can be super empowering, and it’s extremely important to learn and have a voice.” Evelyn

you really have to work for things when you want them. Sequoia


Their OAV project was a journey of self-discovery about their rights and responsibilities. The OAV team is now looking forward to doing more good things with their neighbors.

“To get speed bumps in the alleys! There are cars that go zooming by at super high speeds that could easily hit someone. Several of our neighbors mentioned this problem when we were petitioning for the stop sign.” Sequoia

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Citizen U Editorial Board

This post was curated by the Citizen U Editorial Board.

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