Second Graders Tackle Sanitation Justice in Brooklyn, New York

July 6, 2019

This guest post from Amber Hickey, doctorate in Visual Studies and service-learning project faculty member for Service Learning Project, highlights the need to involve youth in sanitation advocacy.

This past spring, 2nd graders at PS 298 in Brownsville, Brooklyn advocated for sanitation justice in their community. Participating in the youth-led Residency Program of the Service Learning Project, these young advocates became experts in the many challenges created by lack of access to public toilets. They understand the importance of having restrooms on all community members: the youth and the elderly, neighbors with chronic illnesses, and those without shelter.

The Research Phase of the project included an interview with Abby Brown, Board Member of PHLUSH. The students learned about the relationship between toilets and human rights, and they explored potential solutions to address this issue locally using the Public Toilet Advocacy Toolkit. To help solve this urgent problem, they created a two-minute Public Service Announcement (PSA).

The students in the PSA launch an awareness-raising campaign and call on City Councilperson Rafael Espinal to act.

Note: PHLUSH sends a huge Thank You to PSA 298 teacher Lara Nasshorn, Amber Hickey, and their second graders. We hope students will see a positive change in their neighborhood soon! SLP works with Brooklyn youth to create opportunities for them to solve social problems of their choice in their schools and communities. Visit SLP’s website to learn more.

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Our Mission Through education and advocacy, PHLUSH helps local governments and citizen groups to provide equitable public restroom availability and to prepare for a pipe-breaking seismic event with appropriate ecological toilet systems.

Our Vision Toilet availability is a human right and well-designed sanitation systems restore health to our cities, our waters and our soils.

Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human (PHLUSH) was founded in Portland, Oregon and today collaborates with groups across North America.

PHLUSH is a member of the World Toilet Organization and a partner in the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

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