WCA empowers Sleepy Hollow Students through Project Engage!
Since late 2019, WCA has lead our youth civic engagement initiative called “Project 2020” that has impacted hundreds of young people across the county and captured the momentum from New York State’s new 2020 voting rights laws. The laws allow 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote so they are automatically registered when they turn 18 years old. As 2020 turned to 2021, our initiative grew beyond voter registration towards broader civic engagement and empowering the youth voice, so we changed the title of our campaign.
Now Project 2020 has become *Project Engage!*
We have conducted workshops with many communities across Westchester and since fall 2020. Recently, our Programs Team led several workshops with over 120 Sleepy Hollow High school students with support from the Kids Club of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow.
We connected with high school seniors during their social studies classes and aimed to channel their passion and energy to strengthen their voice and familiarity with government, community topics and issues, and to increase their overall impact on efforts for change. Students were passionate about COVID-19 reopening protocols, racial justice, climate change, student debt, immigration policies, and so many more topics. We structured our interactive, virtual workshops with breakout rooms and provided resource sharing with detailed information on levels of government, effective interaction with local leaders, voting, message shaping, and theory of change.
We also featured youth organizers from Sleepy Hollow High School who reflected on their efforts across the County. In fact, our most impactful and final workshop sessions brought in community leaders from the Sleepy Hollow community – leaders from the local, county, and state governments as well as community organizations – to discuss their work with the students and to emphasize the importance of being involved in community and decision-making. New York State (NYS) Assemblyman Tom Abinanti and New York State (NYS) Senator Pete Harckham were particularly dynamic in their discussions with students about what changes they want and need within their community and the importance of being involved in decisions that involve those around us.
Our surveys also showed that over 90% of the students found the workshops helpful, with these highlights:
How do you plan to use the information and insights gained from these workshops?
“Either on this town or wherever I end up, I will use what I’ve learned to know the situation in the town and what I can do to affect it.”
“I feel like I can take everything I learned and use it in my future now that I’m growing up and being introduced into the real world.”
“I plan on using the information and insights gained from these workshops by becoming more involved in my community by finding something I am passionate about and trying to make the world a better place, little by little. I will also try to vote to ensure that my voice counts and that everything is fair.”
“The information gathered in these workshops gave me a lot of insight on how local government works and on how to get involved.”
We are eager to reach more youth across Westchester as we continue to expand the reach out Project Engage!
Check out this glowing review of our “Project Engage” experience
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