Public Health & Safety


Driven by a very personal concern for family members, third graders in Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn set out to convince members of their community to stop smoking. Combining their personal pleas with research about the devastating health effects of smoking, they drafted wrenching letters – some to individual family members and some to the broader community. After adapting their letters into a script, they produced this incredibly powerful anti-smoking PSA.


Concerned about the many traffic accidents involving children in NYC, second graders in Fort Green, Brooklyn joined a local advocacy campaign to slow traffic in their neighborhood. During their research, the students learned that the City Council had declined neighborhood requests to be designated a Slow Zone. To help show widespread demand in the community, the class organized a petition drive for local residents and business owners. They explained the need for a Slow Zone before asking each person to sign their “20 is Plenty” petition and collected more than 70 signatures. The students also created slower speed limit signs to post in their community and participated in a video campaign produced by a local non-profit.


Fifth graders in downtown Brooklyn were determined to help prevent the devastation caused by drunk driving. Although driving under the influence is illegal, the punishment is severe, and the risks could not be more serious, close to 30 million people admitted to driving drunk in 2013.

Realizing this is not a problem that can be solved by changes in the law, the students decided to organize an awareness raising campaign, specifically targeted at teenagers. Click on the image to the right to view their Public Service Announcement (PSA).


Fifth graders in an after-school program had no school playground and the only park in the surrounding neighborhood had fallen into disarray. The class chose to organize a campaign to improve the park, which students in their school used both during recess and after-school. After conducting scientific and other research and mobilizing the local community, they met with a Commissioner of the Parks Department who gave them permission to adopt and make improvements to the park.


After learning that, due to lead contamination, many local parks had been closed for multiple years, a group of middle and high school students in Red Hook, Brooklyn decided to help improve access to parks and recreational space in their school neighborhood. Shocked to learn that similarly affected parks in more affluent neighborhoods nearby had been quickly cleaned and reopened years earlier, they organized a multi-faceted advocacy campaign to raise awareness and demand that local legislators expedite the process of cleaning and reopening Red Hook parks. Their campaign included creating an informational website, organizing a social media campaign, and producing a Public Service Announcement (PSA).


Second graders in Brownsville, Brooklyn chose to advocate for sanitation justice in their community. During the Research Phase, these young advocates became experts in the many challenges created by lack of access to public restrooms, including the particular hardship for youth and the elderly, neighbors with chronic illnesses, and those without shelter. They learned about the relationship between toilets and human rights, and explored potential solutions by partnering with Phlush, an Oregon-based non-profit advocating for equitable access to public restrooms. To help solve this urgent problem, they created a video call to action for their local city council member, which included a request to install a new public restroom in Brownsville.