Tag Archives: chicago

Target of ABC Project Students’ Anti-Smoking Project—Not Who You’d Expect


Haines Elementary School 6th-8th grade ABC Project Students point out the many cigarette butts that litter their school yard. Students are fed up with people smoking around their school. Not only are the students in this Chinatown neighborhood of Chicago sick of cigarette butts covering their school grounds, they are tired of walking out of the building and right into a cloud of cigarette smoke. The smokiest time of day around the building, according to the students, is right as school is dismissed every afternoon. The culprits, the students reveal, are parents and other adult relatives of Haines students picking up children from school.



Using the steps of the ABC Project, the students investigated relevant, existing rules in CPS. What students learned was that smoking is already not allowed on or around the school grounds and they realized that rather than pass a new rule, they needed to find a way to better enforce the existing one. After receiving the go-ahead from their school’s administration, the Haines ABC team attended a meeting of the school safety patrol squad. There they taught student volunteers polite ways to remind smoking adults to stay a distance from the school, or put their butts out. What happens if the smokers don’t listen to the patrol squad, you ask? That’s when they call in the school security guard, Mrs. Hunt. According to the students, you don’t want to mess with Ms. Hunt! To remind parents and students of the no smoking rule, students are using Infographics, a type of data visualization, to create signs that will be placed on school grounds and provide information about the negative effects of smoking and remind students and parents about the rule.

The Haines ABC team is also planning several activities that they hope will help prevent future smokers at their school. For the 5th-8th grade students at Haines, the ABC students are planning to hold an assembly in which smoking and its effects are the focus. For this, they’ll have a speaker from the Chinese Community Health Center talk to students. For the younger students, the ABC team will lead interactive lessons that help students learn the dangers of smoking, and they have a very engaging plan for doing this. Students will take part in grade-appropriate scavenger hunts in which the younger students search for clues—either ingredients of a cigarette (including Butane, Formaldehyde, and Tar) or the effects of smoking on the body (like lung disease, high blood pressure, bad breath) in order to win.

Using thoughtful and varied approaches to the problem at their school, the ABC students from Haines have learned that they can influence the way their school operates and parents behave, and know that they can serve as positive role models, for younger students—and adults!


Beautification from the Inside Out – How Chicago Middle-Schoolers are Changing the Bullying Culture in their School

Beautification from the Inside Out - How Chicago Middle-Schoolers are Changing the Bullying Culture in their Chicago School

How can you go wrong with a theme like “Beautification from the Inside Out”? Ms. Parodi’s eighth grade class from Richard Yates Elementary School would say that you can’t! This group of creative and enthusiastic students is participating in CRFC’s ABC Project: Action-Based Communities. Together they identified bullying as a problem in their school and together they devised a plan to help make Yates Elementary a bully-free zone.

The centerpiece of their plan is to create three murals throughout the school to help beautify everyone from the inside out. The students will need to raise some cash for paint supplies, and they’ll need to seek and get approval from the school administration. No matter the outcome, these students are learning how to be active and civically engaged members of their community. Their slogan is “Proud to be me.” Team Yates – we’re proud to know you!

Chicago Democracy Week Found to Increase Voter Turnout Among 17, 18-Year Olds

Student testimonialsToday, Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago, alongside a coalition of voting rights groups, announced more than 6,000 CPS students and over 3,500 17-year-olds in suburban Cook County were registered as part of the first annual Chicago Democracy Week (2/3/14-2/7/14)  – leading to a record voter turnout in the March Primary among young voters.

The registration totals are part of a report released today, “Voting Early and Often: An Evaluation of Chicago Democracy Week 2014,  the culmination of a week-long effort to expand voter registration  among younger voters led by Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, the Cook County Clerk, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law, Inc., Chicago Votes, Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago, Mikva Challenge, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Rock the Vote, and the League of Women Voters of Chicago. The report also details lessons learned for other communities interested in conducting a similar voting drive.

While Chicago Democracy Week’s principal aim was to register 17-year olds to vote, the report finds that the turnout of those who registered surpassed that of 19-45 year old voters for the first time in history.  The turnout of CPS students at the March Primary was 12.0%.  This is slightly higher than the average Chicago turnout of 11.9%, breaking a decades long trend of young voters (18-25 year olds) turning out at around half the rate of all other voters.

“This Report shows that when civic groups combine their efforts with that of election authorities and public school administrators, we can close the registration and turnout gap between young people and all other voters.  I feel a real sense of accomplishment that we managed to work together so well and achieve such fantastic results,” stated Ruth Greenwood, Voting Rights Fellow with the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.

Langdon D. Neal, Chairman of the Chicago Board of Elections, said, “Even though we saw low turnout rates at this election, it was remarkable that the turnout rates of 17- and 18-year-olds were higher than the turnout rates among voters in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The new voters were more likely than many of their parents to participate.”  On Wednesday, May 7 at 10:00 a.m., 69 W Washington St, Chicago IL, 60602, Eighth Floor Conference Room, the Chicago Board of Elections will convene a press conference, featuring representatives from the groups involved, to discuss results and next steps.

“I think we were so successful because we pulled together groups that know their audience and could target voter registration activities directly at young people engaging in the election process for the first time.” said Nisan Chavkin, Executive Director of Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago.