After receiving in-classroom lessons covering issues related to human rights, environmental ethics, and animal protection, students select an issue they feel passionately about and create a project to address that problem. This school year, eighth grade students at Westcott Elementary, on Chicago’s South Side, applied what they learned in the HEART program to address an issue that was important to them – gang violence.
Gang violence can tear the fabric of a community. Eighth graders at Westcott have seen the devastating effects on their own community, as well as their families.
To help make a difference, the students decided to hold an assembly to educate the younger grades about the dangers of gangs and to persuade them to steer clear. To accomplish this goal, students wrote an original play and performed it live at an assembly. Several students read their own essays and poetry that beautifully expressed how gang violence has affected them. The students invited speakers from Target Area DevCorp to speak to the assembly about what it’s like to be a gang member. The speakers, former gang members, told harrowing stories of being shot at, spending years in prison, and being homeless.
Now, we’d like to share with you a video featuring Westcott students, teachers, and parents as they talk about the impact this project had on them.