washington – The third annual DC Youth Summit on Wednesday night gave DC youth an opportunity to discuss issues in their communities and their ideas for solutions directly with city leaders.
The DC Girls Coalition, DC Action, and other youth advocacy organizations facilitated conversations with representatives from the mayor’s office, DC public schools, city council, and agencies such as health and human services.
Young people said they were struggling with problems that adults couldn’t.
“I’m appalled that all these things keep happening and that city leaders aren’t doing anything to share them with the youth and parents in their communities,” said Ayoka Miller-Agamyemi, 15, a group facilitator.
“I’m tired of losing the people I love the most. I think gun violence should end. I think we need more rec centers,” said Andre Wilson, who is in middle school.
Organizers say young people have unique lived experiences of some of the biggest issues facing their communities, such as violence and mental health, and have real ideas for solutions
“They know what’s needed, they know it can’t just be a Band-Aid solution. They know you have to get to the root cause of the problem, and that does take money and time,” said Kristi Matthews Jones, DC Girls’ Alliance director.
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Mental health and the need for more counselors in schools were top of mind for some young people on Wednesday night.
Tonajea Mixon, 16, said: “If we do more to help young people and their mental health and emotional support, then they will do better.”
Many students also expressed concern about the state of public schools. Some say their buildings need basic supplies like soap, toilet paper and bathroom paper.
Then, of course, there’s the issue of gun violence. Two different teens told FOX 5 that more rec centers with activities would make a big difference.
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“Instead of hanging out and dying from gun violence, play football, basketball or sports inside the rec center,” Wilson said.
Andre Wilson lost his father and friends to gun violence as a middle schooler.
“It’s been going on and on, it hasn’t stopped. It’s like a war,” he said.
Wilson tells us that summits like this have the power to stop this war, especially if more kids get involved. Next, the young antiviolence advocates plan to present the list of demands assembled at the summit to city leaders.