When we heard what Kansas City teen Lauren Ingraham was up to, we asked her to write this guest blog post to share her story.
Last winter, Kansas City had two terrible ice storms that covered the roadways in a layer of black ice. The ice made the road very difficult and dangerous to drive on, but many people were still out driving around – including my mother and me.
As we were leaving our neighborhood, we saw a car slowly slide off the road and slip all the way off into the ditch. As we passed the car, I saw an elderly couple inside struggling to gather their things so they could get out of the car. I wished I could have stopped to help but that would have been more dangerous for my mother and me to stop on the icy, narrow road.
The next day when I came home, two more cars had slid off the road. It took many days for the cars to be moved because the road was too narrow and dangerous for tow trucks to drive on the street.
Seeing these accidents made me want to take action and help my neighborhood. I decided the best solution to this problem was to see if the road itself could be improved because it has no curbs or sidewalks.
The only way I would be able to fix the road was to convince the city of Kansas City, Missouri, to improve them. In order to do this, I would have to petition the Public Improvements Advisory Committee. The group consists of 13 people, two from each council district and a chairperson, appointed by the mayor and City Council.
In August, I presented my idea at the citywide committee meeting. Afterwards, I was thanked by many of the representatives for speaking out and sharing my ideas.
PIAC District 2 Representative, Nelsie Sweeney (below, left) helped me by giving me feedback on how to make my requests stronger. Sara Loar (below, right) coached me through this whole process of working with my city government. She helped me prepare my speech and advised me through the process. Her mother, Councilwoman Teresa Loar (not pictured), represents Kansas City’s 2nd District at-large. She was there to support me and even endorsed my proposal at the end of the meeting.
Since then, I have been collecting letters of support for my road improvement proposal from my neighbors who are also affected by this problem. I sent the letters on to the city to keep this problem fresh in their minds.
Ultimately, it will be up to the committee and then the City Council to decide if my project gets funded.
Even though I am a teenager and not yet old enough to vote, everyone has been genuinely supportive that I was speaking out for something that makes my neighborhood unsafe. I encourage all kids to do the same. If you see a problem in your neighborhood, speak out and get help to get it fixed!