Young Public Interest Initiative

The Young Public Interest Initiative aims to advocate for children in grade schools by promoting its “No TXT Zones” and “No Bully Zones” initiatives.

A local organization is looking for University of Cincinnati students to volunteer for upcoming events to prevent bullying and encourage people to stop texting while driving.

The Young Public Interest Initiative was founded by Michele Young, a practicing lawyer and former Democratic nominee who challenged Steve Chabot in the 2016 race to represent Ohio’s 1st Congressional District. The initiative aims to advocate for children in grade schools by promoting its “No TXT Zones” and “No Bully Zones” initiatives.

The former, a multimedia campaign launched by Young, has been running for years. She has publicly advocated against texting and driving in commercials and in posters hung throughout the city, and she has held “No TXT Zones” rallies at local high schools.

Program fellows have been working on a “No Bully Zone” curriculum to implement at local schools. The anti-bully program will begin this summer and continue into next fall. The team has been in talks with the Cincinnati Recreation Center and several schools, among other places.

“As an attorney, Young is always seeing people being left out of the discussion and has realized this is difficult to address in a court room,” said program fellow Hannah Bellamah. “She shifted to a community initiative perspective because it is such a hard thing to address policy.”

Young and her team recently worked with the Good Food Coalition on the Good Food Purchasing Program, which motivated the Cincinnati Public School Board to pass a resolution that aims to convince the city to be more equitable and transparent in its food purchase practices for schools.

Through the program, Young has recruited student leaders who want to create positive change.

“As a young college graduate, I did not feel like I ever had a place to act on what I cared about,” said Bellamah. “The Young Public Interest Initiative gave me a platform for values that I cared about.”

Bellamah said it has been interesting to see how positive change can happen when people work together.

With the motto “Maximum Good and Minimum Time,” program fellows are working tirelessly to promote the initiative’s goals this year before new fellows are chosen to carry on the mission.

The Young Public Interest Initiative encourages UC students to advocate for its campaigns by spreading awareness. Responsibilities include creating posters, managing social media and engaging with the community.

Advocates will also be able to assist in presenting resolutions at township hall meetings.

“We just want to give [students] a place where they can see and experience the community and make a difference in Cincinnati,” said Bellamah. “The more people the better, and the wider our reach can be.”

This summer, the initiative team is focusing on implementing its “No Bully Zone” curriculum and spreading its message.

“This is a great opportunity for people who want to create change, whether someone in politics, law or community organization,” Bellamah said. “It’s relevant and rewarding work.”

Features Editor

David Rees has been with The News Record since September 2018 as staff reporter, chief reporter, and features editor.