Earlier this month, over 30 StreetSquash 9th/11th graders and staff visited NYC Votes – a nonpartisan voter engagement initiative in the city – to make phone calls ahead of Election Day on November 5th.
Volunteering with NYC Votes was a unique community service opportunity for our students – StreetSquash requires each participant complete three community service projects per year, amassing 20 hours of service before high school graduation.
Beyond earning community service hours, NYC Votes was a valuable leadership development builder. Helping our participants grow into civically minded individuals who advocate for themselves no matter the environment is a top priority among our staff, and NYC Votes was the perfect venue to show our students what’s possible when they make their voices heard.
“NYC Votes was a new experience for many of our participants, and I was impressed by how the students handled the event with incredible professionalism and dedication. Unfortunately, young peoples’ voices are often excluded in our society because of age, which makes it more challenging for them to feel excited about civic engagement.
Our trip to NYC Votes, however, was a confirming exercise of the value of our StreetSquashers’ voices, regardless of age. Even though our students don’t yet have the right to vote, they were still able to effect change for their communities and see the immediate impact of their efforts.”
– Carly Melillo, Squash Director Harlem
The trip to NYC Votes hit upon multiple StreetSquash REACH values, most notably “Connected.” Connected StreetSquashers recognize and respect the significance of their roles in each of their larger communities, including through elections. Whether voting for their peers in student organizations or voting for their elected officials in the years to come, it’s our goal to ensure our participants understand that their voices and ideas matter.
In the spirit of raising our participants’ voices, hear more about the outing directly from some of them!
“Phone banking at NYC Votes was a new experience, and I got to step outside of my comfort zone. Voting is important because I would like to have a factor in who is running my city, state, and country.” – Gael, Class of 2023
“Being at NYC Votes was a cool and creative experience. Making phone calls to New Yorkers was different from other things I’ve done before because it felt like we actually made a difference.” – Marley, Class of 2023