Recently the students in College LEADS at Bergen Community College and Ridgewood Teen LEADS held their presentations of their projects. These programs, modeled after Bergen LEADS, allow students to take a deep dive into the inner workings of Bergen County and explore how public policy impacts our neighbors. Both groups of students were breath-taking in their insights, their compassion and their fierce commitment to stay civically engaged.
Ridgewood Teen LEADS
The Ridgewood High School students chose to learn more about poverty in Ridgewood and Bergen County. They found themselves shocked and surprised by the level of poverty in the community of which they had been previously unaware.
“There are approximately 1,700 people living in poverty in Ridgewood. Our high school has 1,800 students.”
With site visits to the Bergen County Jail, the Housing, Health and Human Service Center, MEVO Fresh Roots Farm, Share House, Bergen Family Promise and the Center for Food Action, the students learned first- hand about the struggles of those in poverty and the correlation between poverty and educational challenges.
Several students said that they had become much more interested in public policy through the program. They were shocked that so many in NJ are unable to access federal programs that are meant to help them. And they were dismayed to discover that some programs are poorly designed to help those who need it most.
As part of their project, they held a food drive for the Center for Food Action and will be selling stress balls during exams to raise money for Bergen Family Promise. Their lasting gift to the community is a website to direct people to services in the community. View the site here, http://bergenservices.weebly.com/.
The future is bright with such compassionate, committed, next generation LEADers.