“Take a step forward if you had over 25 textbooks in your classroom,” said Mickeya Barksdale, Urban Underground youth member. “Now take a step forward if those books had President Barack Obama in them.” Nearly half of the students stand still. The exercise, meant to demonstrate that many students are taught with out-of-date textbooks, prompted a discussion of how students can advocate for equal resources.
The education workshop was one of six presented during Urban Underground’s first youth summit, held recently at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, 3000 N. Sherman Blvd. The youth showcased their plans for improving health, public safety, education and juvenile justice in Milwaukee.
One such plan is to install a security camera above a bus stop where crime has increased. Reproductive health group members identified myths and facts about sexually transmitted diseases. During the education workshop, students worked on balancing the budget of hypothetical schools. The exercise paralleled the funding process used by Milwaukee Public Schools.
Sharlen Moore, executive director of Urban Underground, said one of the goals of the youth summit was to figure out ways to make change in Milwaukee. Moore added, “We really believe that young people have that power and ability … to make those changes.”
Urban Underground invited local organizations such as Voces de la Frontera, Everytown Milwaukee, Pathfinders and No Condom No Way, among others, to encourage youth networking and community involvement. Charmaine Harris, program coordinator at Urban Underground, said the goal was for every student to sign up with at least one other community organization.