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Chinatown School Bus Campaign

Chinatown, 1992–1993

After years of struggling to get their children to school, parents in Chinatown organized the Chinatown Parents Association and campaigned to get school bus service for the neighborhood. In doing so, parents defeated a policy that forced kids as young as five years old to walk a mile and a half through the heavy traffic of downtown Philadelphia.

Youth in AAU’s Youth Leadership Project played a fundamental role in the campaign, using their bilingual skills as well as organizing skills learned through the leadership program. Youth went door-to-door talking to parents, organized meetings with the school officials, petitioned, and mobilized parents to testify at School Board meetings.

The following year the parents successfully won another fight to keep the Chinatown school bus after the district moved to cancel it. In 1995 they won the right for kindergarteners to take the bus.

The campaign successfully showed the power of intergenerational activism, and demonstrated the strength of non-English speaking parents, so many of whom often feel unwelcome in their children’s schools.