100 students from three Parkside community schools asked questions to candidates for 100th Mayor of City of Philadelphia, sharing what issues matters most to children.
On Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023, Please Touch Museum welcomed local elementary school students to meet and speak with candidates running to be the 100th Mayor of the City of Philadelphia, as part of the Every Voice, Every Vote initiative by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Moderated by 6abc’s Tamala Edwards, the Children’s Mayoral Conversation focused on the issues most important to the young children of Philadelphia.
“Children’s voices are not typically elevated during a Mayoral race, so this conversation gave students the chance to share what they hoped the next Mayor will do for their city and the community,” said Patricia D. Wellenbach, President and CEO, Please Touch Museum. “The 100 students who came to the Please Touch Museum are the future of our city, and we hope this conversation not only provides the chance to share what matters to them most, but also furthers the children’s understanding of the role of a mayor, what a mayor can do for their community, and the importance of their civic engagement in the future.”
After hearing from each candidate on where they went to school, their favorite subject to study, and their favorite thing about the City of Philadelphia, the children began asking questions, including:
- What will you do to open the libraries, and make the playgrounds safe for us?
- What are you going to do to stop violence, and make our neighborhood safe?
- If you could change anything in Philadelphia, what would it be?
Watch the Children’s Mayoral Conversation Livestream on YouTube
The questions posed during the Children’s Mayoral Conversation reminded the grownups in the room and watching via livestream that children see the issues currently facing Philadelphia. Children feel the nervous energy of caregivers who worry about them walking to school; they want clean neighborhoods and safe playgrounds to gather with their friends; and they want Philadelphians to help each other and love one another. Hearing the children’s vision for a vibrant Philadelphia is a call-to-action for adults with a vote and officials who are elected to serve the city. Together, we can make Philadelphia better for our number one constituents — the children.
Please see the links below for additional coverage of the Children’s Mayoral Conversation, including interviews with a few of the students in attendance.
- CBS 3: Philadelphia’s mayoral candidates Cherelle Parker, David Oh take questions from kids at Please Touch Museum.
- FOX 29: Kids put Philadelphia mayoral candidates in hot seat at Please Touch Museum.
- City & State Pensylvania: Candidates say the darndest things — at a mayoral forum for Philly schoolkids.
- The Philadelphia Inquirer: Letter to the Editor
Inspiration for the Event
Inspiration for the Children’s Mayoral Conversation stemmed from the Museum’s programming during its Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration in January, when the Museum asked young children and families to share their hopes and dreams for Philadelphia; their responses were then added to a collaborative “I Have a Dream” mural with Dr. King at its center. Over 500 submissions were received for the mural, which was displayed on the Museum’s famous “torch,” and uncovered profound concerns of young children including:
- an end to gun violence and racism;
- increased kindness and respect;
- and a desire to create a clean city with safe housing for all.
To continue lifting children’s voices during the process of electing Philadelphia’s new mayor, the Museum approached the Lenfest Institute for Journalism’s Every Voice, Every Vote initiative to support a Children’s Mayoral Conversation.
In advance of the Conversation, the Museum’s education team visited second grade students at Inquiry Charter School, third grade students at McMichael Elementary School, and fourth grade students at St. Rose of Lima School to provide a civics lesson focused on the role of a mayor.
Students engaged in a dialogue around what it means to be a mayor and completed a worksheet with the reflective prompt, “What would you do if you were Mayor of Philadelphia?”
Responses gathered from the school visits and the collaborative mural from the Museum’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day programming served as the foundation for the Children’s Mayoral Conversation.
About the Conversation
The Children’s Mayoral Conversation was a private event for the 100 students attending the three schools from the Philadelphia Parkside community, the Museum livestreamed the conversation on YouTube.
The Children’s Mayoral Conversation is a part of Every Voice, Every Vote, a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation with additional funding from The Lenfest Institute, Peter and Judy Leone, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and the Wyncote Foundation, among others. To learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters, visit everyvoice-everyvote.org. Editorial content is created independently of the project’s donors.