This interview is part of NADO’s “Youth with a Voice” case studies series, which highlights small towns and rural communities that are effectively engaging young people in planning and community development projects.
Franchesca Legros is a senior at Brownsville Area High School in Pennsylvania and a member of the Students in Action team that is working towards establishing a park and performance stage in downtown Brownsville, population 2,300. Franchesca will be attending Penn State Fayette to study petroleum engineering, and will also play for their volleyball team.
Click here to learn more about local Brownsville high school students involved with community development in their hometown.
What motivated you to become involved with the Students in Action Team?
I first became motivated to make a difference in my hometown of Brownsville as a little girl. My grandfather owned a shop in the main part of town and he would tell me stories about the booming city – the way people would overflow the sidewalks, the endless shops and sights, or the countless trains passing through. As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that things have unfortunately changed. I wanted to bring back the rich history my town once had and the Students In Action team seemed the perfect way to do so.
How have your views of your hometown changed since you began this project?
I used to view Brownsville as a place that was a “had been.” For example, “Brownsville had been great” or “Brownsville once was booming.” Many people from this town have tried to make a change for the better, but not much has ever been followed through with. My views have altered because for the first time something is being done, something is happening, something is changing. With this project continuing to progress, Brownsville is changing from a “had been” to an ” is now.”
What advice do you have for other students in other towns who want to get involved with improving their communities?
The best advice I have for other students who want to get involved in their communities is not to wait for something to be started by a larger organization or someone else. If you want something to happen you have to initiate the movement; you have to lead others; you have to keep your head up and never take “no” for an answer.
Do you have plans to return home to Brownsville after college? Why or why not?
Although I plan on going away to attend college, I will absolutely be back to Brownsville. My family is from here, I have grown up here and I want nothing more than for my kids to grow up here. This project is important to me because my heart is in this town. I am taking action now, so many years down the road when I return to this nostalgic town it will be a beautiful place to raise my family.
The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under an award with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government.