One of the most effective ways to get involved in improving your community is to join or form your local Tenant Association. Young people at Parkway Gardens have done just that; they formed a Youth Tenant Council. Parkway Gardens’ teens are organizing to ensure they have a voice in the decisions affecting them and their community. The teens formed the council to focus on issues impacting young people at Parkway Gardens.
The youth are concerned about resources available to employ teenagers, crime in their neighborhood, and creating solutions to issues that plague their community. In the short time the Youth Tenant Council has been meeting, they’ve made their presence known. They met with the Building Manager to articulate their vision for Parkway Gardens. Management agreed with the need for resources to employ youth in the community, and committed to start providing youth with stipends to write stories, take pictures, and document the progress of work in the community gardens. The group also met with CAPS to create a working relationship between police and community, and to express their concerns about the lack of safety along King Drive, which is where most of the violence takes place, as described by community. The Youth Council created a petition and are now gathering signatures demanding increase to resources for community safety through the Chicago Police Department.
Empowering youth to identify and respond to community needs helps us all become more empathetic and reflective community and instills a sense of hope in our present and future. As youth and community organize together, young people (and not so-young people) realize their the power to influence decisions impacting their communities the most. Consistently, research suggests youth who are engaged in their communities are less likely to fall into the traps of school-to-prison pipeline. As young people work for change and the future they envision for Parkway Gardens they are gaining and sharing skills to be the leaders of today and tomorrow.