DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Though almost all of the participants were under voting age, students here called on anyone who is eligible to register to vote.
Improving voter turnout was the theme of a rally in Courthouse Square Wednesday. More than 500 students from the Dayton-area’s seven Freedom Schools danced, marched and held signs to advocate for social issues pressing their communities.
“They’re all from areas of the city that historically have struggled and have been under represented in our elected officials. So these are issues they’re living with every day,” said Amy Kettner, the marketing manager for the United Way of Greater Dayton.
The event, organized locally by the United Way of Greater Dayton, was part of a national Day of Social Action. The annual movement fulfills a civic engagement component of the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools, which give financially and academically at-risk children after-school and summertime literacy programming.
Students in the program focus on reading and learning about civic engagement. This summer, each Freedom School picked an issue to research and advocate for at the Day of Social Action.
“They have great ideas and they actually do care about happens in their community,” said Vanessa Ward, the president of Omega Community Development Corporation, which sponsors two Freedom Schools.
Wednesday, the students presented their ideas and marched around Courthouse Square with signs.
Organizers said the goal was to teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills to the students, so they become more responsible members of their communities.
“They hear a lot of conversations about what they don’t have,” said Ward. “This encourages them to think about what they do have and then be inspired to do something with what they have to make a difference.”
You can learn more about Freedom Schools and the Day of Social Action here.