The ideas below were submitted by local high school students to the Politifest 2012 Idea Tournament — Junior Edition. Voice of San Diego staff voted on the top three, which are listed first here. At Politifest on Sept. 29, each of the finalists will have one minute to pitch their idea to a panel. The crowd at Politifest will vote on a winner, who will receive a surprise pack from SDG&E and VOSD.

The top three:

Rosa Olascoaga:

My concern is that City Heights does not have everything that it needs to serve the community. Something that would really benefit City Heights is a skate park for the skaters in the neighborhood. Building a skate park would benefit the people in the community because skaters would feel like they have a safe space to go to instead of worrying about getting hit by a car (which recently happened to my brother). Having a skate park would also keep skaters off the street and would no longer be a problem to community members frustrated with their overwhelming presence on the street. A skate park in City Heights would also benefit the community because it would be a location for people to exhibit their talents and reach out to others to pursue sports or fun recreational engagement.

Carlos Legaspi:

San Diego should have more youth groups do community service in order to become a more excellent city. I am in a youth group myself. We plan different activities and, little by little, the world has changed. If different parts of San Diego do this, the world will be a better and safer place for everyone.

Youth groups do many different activities. Recently, 30 people worked for two hours cleaning different parks. When we help out our environment like this, other people will be motivated to do the same. One person can do a lot, but everyone working together can change reality.

Some people might say this is a waste of time. They are wrong because they don’t realize that this benefits them, too. It is valuable to be useful instead of just being lazy at home. For high school students, community service will also help them on their college applications, as well.

This why there should be more youth groups in San Diego. They would make a big change.

Osvaldo Berumen:

I am a current resident of City Heights and I have noticed how a large amount of children are turning to the streets to comfort themselves from the neglect that they are receiving from home.

My proposal to solve this problem in my community is to offer more programs for these children to go and talk about their problems. I know that this could cost a lot of money, but we don’t need mentors with college degrees. We can get people from our own community that want to make a change and help the future of our neighborhood.

Our helpers don’t have to be the next Dr. Phil or Oprah Winfrey; we just need someone who is willing to listen and give advice to our youth. I know this can make a huge impact because I am one of those children that doesn’t get the right attention at home and sometimes we just need someone to talk to so that we can release the emotions that we have bottled up that might otherwise just be waiting to explode.

If kids experience horrible things at a young age, they can literally become a ticking time bomb and, when the wrong thing is said to them, they can explode and react without thinking. We all know that this can be a life-ending incident. So what I propose to do is introduce a group of lovable people into my community that are willing to make a positive impact on the youth and the future of our communities.

The rest of the entries:

Leslie Delgado:

A solution to one of San Diego’s biggest challenges is to create less toxic waste. The public should recycle their toxic property instead of throwing it down sewers that lead to our oceans or leaving it around the streets. If they do this, then San Diego can become more green and less polluted. People should also pick up after themselves. For example, most cars leak onto the roads or spill oils onto the owners’ driveways.

If people do not recycle correctly, ocean creatures can become extinct and our beaches will be less safe. San Diego will no longer be a pretty city anymore. However, with a little more caution and respect towards the environment, San Diego’s ocean become a better place than it already is.

Alexis Urias:

San Diegans should become more aware of air pollution. One way to reduce air pollution is to use less cars that run on gas and have more people use buses and trolleys. Factories should also reduce the toxic waste that they produce because a lot of their waste is let out into the atmosphere. Maybe the most wasteful factories should be allowed to produce their goods just three days a week.

Toxic waste that goes into the air not only affects the ecosystem, but it also affects us, the people. That’s why using less cars and creating fewer products is a good way to reduce air pollution in San Diego.

Alejandro Balderas:

One of the challenges that San Diego faces is the homeless people out on the streets. This problem can be solved in many ways, but one great solution is to make sure that homeless people have jobs. Their jobs could be picking up trash around the city. Everyone gets a “win win” because homeless people can get their lives together and the city can improve by having cleaner streets that generate more business. This might take time, but it will be worth it in the end because everyone wins in this situation.

Alyin Carranza:

San Diego’s transportation has started to become a problem. As our population grows, so has the use of transportation and gas prices. Cars have started to produce CO2, which ultimately causes pollution and there have been too many traffic jams throughout all times of the day. My mom would take the city bus to work and if she was late, she would have to wait an extra half hour and wouldn’t make it home until 9 p.m. at night.

We can solve these basic problems by finding alternatives. Instead of using fossil fuels, we can use wood, water and minerals to power cars. We can also fix the bus schedules and make them come every 15 minutes.

In the morning, we should organize how we go off to work or school so we won’t have to be late due to traffic. Freeways can be trouble, especially in the mornings where it takes a while to get to your destination.

We should start coming up with more ideas than just basic suggestions. Please consider the options. Coming up with better ideas for transportation will make the people of San Diego happier!

Laura Castro:

San Diego has low employment rates that affects the city’s economy. One way to fix this would be to attract more tourists to come and fuel our employment rates. However, there needs to be a reason for why people want to come to San Diego and spend their money. A great solution is to have huge events that people all over the world want to attend. For example, Comic-Con is an annual event that attracts not only people from San Diego, but famous stars from Hollywood who attract even more people. The effect that Comic-Con had on San Diego’s economy was to fill the hotels and chain reactions occurred.

It would also be awesome if San Diego had something like the Sundance Film Festival because that event is BIG! However, it is very far away. But people with money would be able to make it here to San Diego and therefore fuel the local economy.

Leslie Chavez:

San Diego is known as “America’s Finest City” with all of its beautiful beaches, amusement parks and envious weather. Living in San Diego should be a dream, yet it is not sometimes. Our finest city lacks a fine education system with its overcrowded classrooms.

The solution to this problem is to place fewer students in a room, especially with the lack of teachers we have. If San Diego could spend less money on other projects and use these funds to pay for more teachers, the quality of education would be enhanced. I think it is fair to say that we need to invest in our future.

Another solution that I have to offer to the city of San Diego is to open more schools. If a room is overcrowded, then that obviously means that the school overall is small. Too many students in one area leads to more distractions and less attention. If students aren’t paying attention in class, then there is no way for them to learn. Education has to be a priority and, being a student myself, I know firsthand that our school system needs a lot of improvement.

Jeremy Dolphin:

There are many abandoned buildings in downtown San Diego and the people of this city should renovate those buildings so that they are up to code and so that people can live in them. This would also help existing shelters that support and feed the homeless because the pressure will be taken off of these organizations. The buildings that are renovated will support and feed the homeless or less fortunate and them an opportunity to help out the community. The cost might be high, but it will be worth it because it helps the citizens of San Diego.

Franky Escobar:

San Diego’s toughest neighborhoods would be an excellent place to live if there was more positive thinking. There should be more public parks that have monthly events like movies, concerts, or even dance parties. This will help the community because these events will attract young people and keep them from using drugs or hanging out with the wrong crowd. If we support this idea, it will push young people to do the right thing. In addition, it will make the city safer because there will be less violence and gang activity. In conclusion, our city will benefit from this proposal greatly because it will generate more positive thinking.

Albert Frank:

My name is Albert Frank and I have a few ideas about how to change San Diego. The main problem that the City Council should work on is the violence. There are too many gang bangers and drug dealers out here. At very early ages, kids are being recruited into such illegal activities. The worst part of it is that they are kids just like me. I have seen kids at my school choose that path. Now, the streets are too dangerous to walk — not just at night, but in broad daylight, too.

I think the community needs to teach kids about what alternatives are available. If the City Council could at least move forward with this idea, it will be greatly appreciated and you’ll see for yourself just how much this idea will improve our community.

Charles Nguyen:

San Diego is growing as we speak. More people are evolving as so does our technology. I believe that since we live in the 21st century, we need to get more involved with what is being brought forth to us. Most people in San Diego are in the middle and lower classes. So in order to climb to a higher class, we need to make technology more affordable. We can do this by having companies lowering their prices since they are already making so much profit. Another way is to offer computer, laptop or iPad rentals on a monthly basis. This idea will allow people to temporarily own a piece of technology equipment and learn how to keep up with the times. In conclusion, I believe that with the right company or corporation lowering their prices or allowing low-income customers to rent their products, then we can change the whole community.

Daniel Noriega:

I would like to challenge San Diego to eliminate having ghetto parts and rich parts in the city. I would like that because then nobody would be judged by where they live or where they go to school. If that were possible, then a lot of people would get along with a lot of different people than who they know now.

Some people think that they have a bad life just because they come from low-income families, but they are wrong because there are plenty of kids from high-income families who feel the same way even though they can have whatever they want.

On the other hand, there are people from high-income families that think that the city is just full of liquor stores and people who do drugs. They are wrong, too, because there is a new generation coming up in San Diego’s inner city. I am part of this generation that is focused on succeeding, and determined to show that, no matter where a person lives, San Diegans have way more similarities than differences.

Dilshod Otadjanov:

We can fix our city by making special places for skateboarding, bike riding, special tracks to race and other places to have fun. For skating, they can make a big park where anyone can go and have fun for free. For bikers, just build some ramps at the old parks so that they become popular again. For racers, just close down a road so that they don’t have to race on highways, lose control and crash into random cars. Also, we need help to clean up our communities and make them pretty. We can do this by asking people to help themselves out by using trash cans and recycle bins.

Christopher Ponce:

In my neighborhood, teens around here are mostly dropping out of school. What I would like to do is help a program called Reality Changers expand because they help students get back on track. If we could let the world know about Reality Changers, we could make a difference in thousands of people’s lives.

Reality Changers has helped me with my family and school problems, but before I started the program, I was stuck in a rut. I had a 1.9 GPA, but they motivated me get my grades up to a 2.5 GPA before the end of my 8th grade year and made a huge difference in my life. After moving up to the 9th grade, I am keeping my grades at a 3.5 GPA and I’m hoping to get a 4.0 GPA by the end of the year. I know that Reality Changers can help me reach that goal.

If you would like to help me expand Reality Changers, we can even make a difference on people who live all across the United States of America. We’re not just making students happy, though; we’re making entire families happy because we are sending their children to college. We’re also making society happy by helping America become whole again by producing college graduates that will have a better opportunity to have a positive impact on the country’s economy.

Hilary Salinas:

A great solution for one of the biggest challenges facing San Diego is to have more programs like Reality Changers to help kids get better grades and go to college. I believe that sending representatives, mentors and tutors to public schools to talk about what college means and how to get there would encourage students to be motivated by other people’s success. They will want that success just as bad.

Jorge Soto:

There are many problems that San Diego is facing at the moment. For example, one main problem that is making San Diego teens go on the wrong path is drugs. Drugs are everywhere in San Diego, especially the low-income parts of town. This is leading many teens to try drugs and become addicted to them at a very young age. This leads to further consequences, such as dropping out of school and becoming involved in gangs.

One way to solve this problem is to create more programs where teens can be kept busy instead of being outside where they are influenced and pressured to try drugs. These new programs, if made, would help and motivate these teens. This would be very helpful because many don’t have the motivation at home and that is why they turn to drugs.

Jovany Urbina:

Attracting more tourists is the best way to bring more money to San Diego and the city’s schools. If we improve our football and baseball teams, more tourists will come and give us money. This income will help the schools’ budget and help the homeless by being able to create more jobs. Another way good way to make San Diego better is by making more water parks and better malls by making them bigger and fancier.

Juan Villanueva:

I think there should be more police in the city because there are too many people selling drugs, breaking into people’s houses and killing people for random reasons. Adding more cops will help the community because it would help people stay in school and stop using drugs. By encouraging students to stay in school, they will be better influences on little kids and keep them away from starting to use drugs. This will also help create new jobs and help San Diego’s society grow.

Join us on Sept. 29 at the Politifest 2012 Idea Tournament.

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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