It is critical to give our youth the resources and opportunities to engage as citizens in the fight for justice. The Blocks Together Youth Council is the youth organizing arm of Blocks Together and is open to youth that live or go to school in West Humboldt Park. BT youth lead campaigns for policies and practices that create safer learning environments without pushing youth out into the hands of the criminal justice system. They stand together against the school-to-prison pipeline evidenced by the police processing center located in the local high school, metal detectors and surveillance cameras, police officers assigned to patrol inside the school, zero tolerance policies that result in some of the highest rates for suspension and expulsions at our schools, and the lack of resources for failing schools. The BT youth council has been at the forefront of the push for and development of innovative Restorative Justice approaches in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and is a member of the Dignity in Schools Campaign challenging the national school pushout crisis.
In the the last few years Blocks Together youth have been working to:
- Increase the restorative justice programs available in local schools
- Supporting reform at the local criminal justice level
- Organizing to win more jobs for youth
- Addressing issues with the Chicago Police Department Gang Database and other over policing tools nationally
- Conducted “Know Your Rights” training for hundreds of youth in the community