Baylor hosts camp where kids work to address community issues

WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Young minds took a deep dive into issues that exist in our community and how to address them as part of the iEngage Summer Civics Institute.

About 100 kids from across the region came together at Baylor to take part in the camp focusing on action civics, meaning taking action to change the community.

The kids have some big ideas.

“They are looking to address homelessness in Waco, they are thinking about food insecurities, they are thinking about environmental issues and how we can clean up Lake Waco,” Dr. Karon LeCompte in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction said.

Kids ranging from 5th to 9th grade are divided into groups to research a topic they want to address and present ways to make a difference.

Group 6 talked about colorism.

“People with darker skin tones are usually more discriminated in the African American community than black people with lighter skin tones,” Karis Henderson, a student at ATLAS Academy, said.

The students have a goal at the end of the five days of research to present ideas for a solution.

“We’ve been working on trying to find websites that help with this issue and we’ve done research on how it affects people,” Henderson said.

“We get them to build consensus with one another so they have to work together, they have to have meaningful conversations, they have to read, research and write to come up with what is the root cause of the focus issue,” Dr. LeCompte said.

They are able to make real changes by finding helpful resources and solutions and carrying out their proposals to community leaders.

“The reason I actually came here is because I want to learn how to be a good citizen,” Nolan Parnell of College Station said.

The program has made such an impact, people from across the nation are hoping to replicate it.

“The focus in the elementary years especially has been a focus on reading and math but at the detriment of civics education,” Stephanie Serriere, a professor of Social Studies Education at Indiana University–Purdue University Columbus, said. “The original purpose of the public school system was to create citizens and I think we are losing that purpose so it’s to recentralize the purpose of our schools.”

Serriere says Indiana University–Purdue University Columbus hopes to partner with Baylor going forward.

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