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The final school day in 2019 brought with it Project Citizen presentations for the senior classes at Abramson Sci Academy and George Washington Carver High School. Project Citizen is an annual group assignment for first-semester seniors in Seminar in Social Justice class— a course in which students workshop ideas for changes in their community through project based learning. This year, Project Citizen topics ranged from addressing gun violence to supporting first-generation students through college. Six teams of seniors presented their policy pitches to a panel of Louisiana state representatives. These judges scored each project on a rubric based on presentation, polish, and overall content.

Albrion Kelley, Derrnisha McGill, and Kendrionne Anderson won first place for their presentation on Mental Health Access for Black Communities in New Orleans. The group presented a stunning policy pitch connecting gun violence, mass incarceration, and generational trauma to the issue of mental health access. They proposed that the state should divest money from prisons and invest in mobile mental health units that could travel between the highest need neighborhoods and provide group counseling, individual therapy and psychiatry, and wellness sessions such as dance and yoga. The buses would be staffed by people of color and could respond immediately after a neighborhood experiences a traumatic event. Check out their sildes by clicking the link.

This group exhaustively rehearsed their presentation, connecting every graph and data point to their greater argument. They spoke passionately and the urgency of this topic was felt by everyone in the room. They absolutely captivated the space.
The winning team and runners up have been invited to present again in front of city council members and other state leaders in the coming months. We’re so proud of the amazing and powerful individuals in the Class of 2020 and we’re thrilled to see our city and state government recognize them for their efforts.