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At least 15 dead as severe weather sweeps across central US; on Memorial Day, IA labor leaders honor fallen workers; Medical center installs microgrid to safeguard clinic power supply; 'Second look' laws gain traction, but MS sticks to elderly parole; Will summer heat melt New Mexicans' cravings for ice cream?

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One congressman cites ways Biden could get more support from communities of color. A new Louisiana law reclassifies two abortion medications as controlled substances. And Ohio advocates work to boost youth voter turnout.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Chicago High Schoolers Educate Voters on Civic Duty

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Wednesday, October 28, 2020   

CHICAGO -- While they can't legally cast a ballot themselves yet, dozens of Illinois high school students are working to ensure that people of voting age understand the importance of their civic duty.

As part of the WOKE Project, roughly 130 young people from three Chicago-area high schools are working the phones and pounding pavement to offer nonpartisan election information to eligible voters.

Jasmine Roach, 17, a junior at Prosser Career Academy, said the work they're doing is very important to her, personally.

"I get to vote next year, so I learn a lot through this program," she said. "It helped me learn about the politics, what's going on with the election, what can we do to get our voices heard, especially in the Black and Brown community."

Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 guidelines, some students are manning a phone bank tonight while others will drop off literature in person. The WOKE Project, which stands for "Working On Knowledge and Equity", brings together educators and students of color for learning beyond the classroom, with a focus on direct engagement in their communities. Thirteen civics classes are part of this week's get-out-the vote effort.

As a junior at Roosevelt High School, Alexandra Moreno, 16, said she enjoys the outreach work and believes the main point of voting is to make communities better.

"I thought it was important for our communities to be more safe, be united, to be more positive," she said. "It's kind of dangerous right now, but that's why we need to vote -- to make power, to make our community safe."

Roach said the WOKE Project helps support young people in the community who are struggling and can feel they have nowhere else to turn.

"They have programs where you can go if your mental health is not OK," she said. "If you don't have money for food, they help out with that. If you need help with homework, they help you with that, they get you tutors."

The WOKE Project is a partnership between Voices of Youth in Chicago Education and Communities United.


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