Rising ninth graders are developing the skills to organize for positive change, as local civic issues are targeted by students at iEngage Camp at Baylor University.
The iEngage Summer Civics Institute is now in its fourth year. The purpose of the camp is to teach children about being well informed citizens who are capable of acting on local issues, changing communities.
“Every time I come back, it’s never the same thing over and over again. They always make a point to make sure it’s different and it’s a good experience,” said rising ninth grader Hannah Okafor. She credits the camp with making it possible for her to break many boundaries in the past few years, including playing male dominated tackle football, getting elected to student council, and creating a petition to start a football team at her current school.
Campers meet with local elected officials and leaders, while learning about current events which include the 2016 presidential election. They develop their own plans to create civic change. They present the plans to counselors and parents at the week’s end.
Directed by Brooke Blevins and Karon LeCompte, Baylor School of Education faculty members and iEngage co-founders, the camp focuses on creating young citizens who take action and know about their local issues. “We’re not so focused on the adult political agendas that have to do with (Donald) Trump and (Hillary) Clinton and all the other political news,” LeCompte, a Baylor associate professor, said. “We really want our campers to: No. 1, learn how to be citizens; No. 2, to learn how to advocate; No. 3, to learn how to build consensus with one another; and No. 4, how to take action on a project or an issue in their community that they care about.”