Belle Glade teens create program to increase census participation

Belle Glade teens create program to increase census participation

Two teens in Belle Glade are working to make sure as many people as possible fill out the census.

It first started as a classroom project last year.

"We've been practicing social distancing but knocking on people's homes and telling them on the importance if they would like to complete it," said 17-year-old Anajiah Graham.

She and her friend started a program called "Stand Up, Be Counted."

They also received a grant from Philanthropy Tank to keep their mission going.

"In 2010, 57 percent of our citizens completed the census. As of today, Sept. 14, we are at 44.3 percent of our citizens, so we still have a ways to go," said Belle Glade Public Relations Coordinator Mary Evans.

The city said the teens are trying to encourage more people to be involved.

Belle Glade Public Relations Coordinator Mary Evans is encouraging residents to participate in the census to ensure the city receives the full amount of federal money.
Belle Glade Public Relations Coordinator Mary Evans is encouraging residents to participate in the census to ensure the city receives the full amount of federal money.

"Fill it out because we all want to live in a beautiful city. When we go to other cities and see how beautiful things are, and we see all of the resources that the cities have, this is because of the census," Evans said.

"Weekly, we are providing the food necessary to these communities, but there's a cost associated with that. Somebody has to pay for it. It's all about accountability. If we are not at the table, we're on the menu, we want to make sure we are on the table with the data of the people living in this community," Belle Glade Mayor Steve Wilson said.

The funding could help schools, roads and other city programs.

"We call it the next generation to come, the young folks involved in this census count. They are able to reach people we can't reach," Wilson said.

Time is running out.

"We have until Sept. 30. It's not too late," Evans said.

"It's nothing to be scared of. It's important to something to better your community," Graham said.

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