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Youth4Change: Why Winter Is a Nightmare for Providence Youth and How You Can Help

This post was submitted to Greater City: Providence by Youth4Change. It is a quite timely message given the condition of the sidewalks across Providence this morning. Above is a photo from my 1 mile walk to work this morning.

I remember being a kid and jumping for joy when I saw my first snowflake of the season. The thrill of seeing beauty fall from the sky, the hope for snow days, and the desire to drop down and make snow angels returns to me this time of year. But for many of Providence youth, snow brings on the feeling of dread not joy. The dread and disgust comes from the thought of walking miles to school in the frigid New England temperatures. Wet shoes, cold ears and frost bitten fingers are not the way most of us want to spend our mornings day after day, however, for many Providence high school students, this is the reality every winter.

Currently in the city of Providence, high school students who live within 3 miles of their school are not provided transportation and are expected to walk, get a ride, or in the case for most students, pay their own bus fare. Recent RIPTA fare increases now force many students to pay $5 a day to get to and from school. This expense does not include travel to after-school activities and jobs, opportunities known to increase a student’s academic performance and increase their odds of receiving college acceptance and scholarships. The $5 or more a day students spend in bus fare is clearly a financial burden for families in a district where 82% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch (Providence Public Schools, Fact Sheet 2008-2009). For families who can’t afford the expense, students must either walk in the cold or bunk school. If it were you, which would you choose?

Youth 4 Change (Y4C), an alliance led by four non-profit youth organizations|Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM), Young Voices, and Youth In Action (YIA)|has been pushing for more youth voice and influence in public policy and decision making. Their Transportation 4 Education campaign is aimed at decreasing student barriers to attending school and assuring youth right to accessible transportation.

This month, Y4C was selected by The Pepsi Refresh Project to compete in a national competition to receive $50,000 to implement a public awareness campaign. The Pepsi Refresh Project is an evolution of the Refresh Everything initiative Pepsi launched in 2009. In an effort to support those who generate innovative, optimistic ideas, the Pepsi Refresh Project has awarded more than $13 million in 2010 to move communities forward. Organizations can apply for grants to benefit a variety of projects and supporters can vote for the best ideas for funding.

Y4C is in the running for a $50,000 grant to fund their Transportation 4 Education public awareness campaign. This campaign will include youth-produced and youth-designed billboard ads, radio ads, and television commercials about student barriers to attending school.

Y4C is in competition against 1,000 businesses and organizations. The top ten will receive the funds to implement their idea. Y4C needs YOUR VOTE to win!

How you can help:

  1. Vote Every Day!
    – Online: Go to www.y4cri.org and click Vote For This Idea
    – Text: Send 104586 to Pepsi (73774)
  2. Share this Post! – Include the Y4C video and voting information
  3. Encourage a Friend to Vote!
  4. Learn more about Y4C!
    – Visit www.y4cri.org and text Y4C to 313131 to sign up for text message alerts and updates

Y4C gets nothing if enough votes aren’t gathered. Vote today! Each vote gets Y4C closer to their goal. Voters can login or text everyday. The contest ends Dec. 31st.

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2 Responses to Youth4Change: Why Winter Is a Nightmare for Providence Youth and How You Can Help

  1. Matt Moritz December 28, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    3 miles? I’m guessing, without examining a map that this essentially means that busing for high school students is non-existent.

    Who decides on this sort of policy and why?

  2. RunawayJim December 31, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    Seriously. Heck, at PC, only students who live within a mile (that’s their rental, not their permanent home) are not permitted to get parking passes. In my hometown in CT, if you lived within a mile of the school, you did not get to ride the bus.

    3 mile is a long way. This explains why RIPTA is so crowded in the morning on almost every route. You can get across almost the entire city in 3 miles. And 3 miles is not a reasonable walk unless you got 45 minutes on your hand.

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