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Eighth-Grade Civics Classes Empower Students as Changemakers Through the Durham Challenge
Video By Jesse Paddock

Eighth-grade civics classes have been abuzz all year long — researching community issues of importance to them and then using class time to turn their ideas into real, tangible and impactful community engagement projects. Using design thinking, these Middle Schoolers turned their research into concrete, positive solutions through on and off-campus field trips and conversations that yielded projects addressing: some of the root causes of drug and alcohol abuse, the potential mental health impacts of cell phone use in children under 10, the impact of verbal harassment in public spaces, ways to increase environmental sustainability, potential solutions for food insecurity, improving recreational equipment in public parks, and ways to teach younger children about the benefits of healthy eating. They also took a deep dive into the inner workings of democracy through a guest speakers series where students talked with people actively engaged in local government.

Videographer Jesse Paddock has documented their work over the course of the school year and takes us inside the Durham Challenge, where DA students learn about their ability to affect meaningful, lasting change.