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YOUTH VOICE Chapter Challenges DDOT and Increases Safety for Students

 Photo: Nicole Lassiter (center)

In late November of 2010, a young girl sat at a Cody High School bus stop holding her 15 year old brother’s bleeding head in her hands. She waited as help came. Her brother had been beaten by a mob of fifteen people. A month later the two students returned to school angry and feeling powerless. All we want is to get an education. We’re just trying to get to and from school to learn, and we can’t even do that without being afraid for our lives.” said one of the students.

This is not the first incident to have occurred at this particular bus stop, located a few blocks from Cody High School. Last summer six students were infamously shot, and earlier this year there was a stabbing.

After returning to school the students, who are members of Cody Detroit Institute of Technology’s YOUTH VOICE Chapter, began organizing their peers around a campaign to reduce bus stop violence. They researched DDOT bus routes and schedules, and came up with a solution. If DDOT re-routed their buses for one hour at the end of the school day to stop right outside the school, the bus would stop inside Detroit Public Schools Police jurisdiction, thus increasing safety for students using the bus stop.

In April, thirty-five students from Cody DIT met with representatives from DDOT and the mayor’s office, to present their plan. DDOT officials agreed to analyze the students’ plan and report back to them in a month. On May 4, 2011, DDOT approved the students’ plan, and agreed to re-route the bus stop nearer to the school.

This was a great victory and learning experience for members of the Cody DIT YOUTH VOICE Chapter. Student Nicole Lassiter said, “After my brother was jumped, I felt completely powerless. When I got to lead the meeting with DDOT at my school I felt like the adults were finally listening to us. DDOT came back and said we had won. I felt like I had power. Like my voice was heard. I have learned that when enough youth come together with an organized plan we can change things. I learned that I am powerful!”