I’m Ana Quinones, a graduate of EBC High School for Public Service in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. In my Government and Economics class we worked on ways to better help the community, especially where our school was located. We’ve worked closely with the DOT, council Members Antonio Reynoso, and Rafael Espinal. We also worked with CB4 member Nadine Whitted and Kevin Worthington, but most of all we worked especially close with Y-PLAN. Without them, none of what my classmates and I accomplished would have been possible.

Our economics teacher, Ms. Garcia, invited Amanda Eppley into our class one day so Amanda could explain to us what Y-PLAN was all about. I personally knew and felt that Y-PLAN was going to have a huge impact on us. Y-PLAN first started in Berkeley California. Its main goal is to strengthen schools worldwide, create healthy communities and build more sustainable cities. When my classmates and I first heard of Y-PLAN some of us were excited to start the project and others weren’t so excited. They thought to themselves, “How is this going to fix our community?’’ but that’s when everything good started to happen.

Ms. Garcia divided the class into groups of 4 that focused on public safety, mixed used, affordable housing, and mixed zoning. The purpose of these groups was to see how we can keep our community safe. Our public safety group focused on: Do we need more cops along North Brooklyn during the night? Or do we need crossing guards not only for school children but our senior citizen as well? Our mixed use and mixed zoning group focused on: Should we have more mixed use development blends that’s more residential, commercial or cultural? And our affordable housing group focused on: Should affordable housing be for everyone or really senior citizen and adults going through a struggle? We mainly focused on things that were affecting our school community.

Doing Y-PLAN and helping my community made me feel good because I knew I had a little impact on my community, and helping my community helped me gain resources that I can use in the near future. Doing Y-PLAN has helped me to give speeches, because now in college I am taking a public speaking class and I feel more confident giving speeches thanks to Y-PLAN. It also helped me learn more about non-profit agencies and the functions and operations of these nonprofit agencies we’ve worked closely with. Y-PLAN has helped me develop an increased sense of social responsibility, and it also helped me see and understand diversity. It provided an opportunity to apply academic learning to real human needs, builds relationships and "social connectedness" with peers, adults, and activists sharing a cause. And most of all it helped me improve communication and critical thinking skills.

Thank you to Y-PLAN for this amazing opportunity you let us be a part of, and thank you council members Antonio Reynoso and Rafael Espinal. Also thank you to CB4 member Nadine Whitted for the tremendous support you provided to EBC High School for Public Service in Bushwick. Most of all, thank you to our teacher Ms. Garcia, who never gave up on us when we wanted to give up on ourselves. You pushed us to better help our community, and now we are forever grateful of the impact we had. Thank you to our Principal Mr. Shawn Brown for letting us work on this project and supporting us all the way through, and to our parents without you all this would not have been possible. Ana speaks about her project in front of a panel at Y-PLAN Launch