WASHINGTON – 3rd Annual DC The Youth Summit, held Wednesday night, gave the district’s youth a chance to speak directly to city leaders about problems in their communities and their ideas for solutions.
The DC Girls Coalition, DC Action and other youth advocacy organizations facilitated the conversation with representatives from the mayor’s office, DC public schools, the city council and health and human services, among others.
Young people say they are trying to solve problems that adults just can’t solve.
“I’ve been so devastated that all these things have happened and city leaders are doing nothing to share with the youth and parents in the communities,” said Ayoka Miller-Agamyemi, 15, and one of the youth. group facilitators.
“I’m tired of losing the people I love the most and I think gun violence needs to end and I think we need more recreation centers,” said Andre Wilson, who is in high school.
Organizers say young people have unique lived experiences of some of the biggest issues facing the community, such as violence and mental health, and have real ideas for solutions.
“They know what is needed they can’t just be static solutions. They know you have to get to the root causes of issues that take money and time,” said Kristi Matthews Jones, director of the DC Girls Coalition.
Top of mind for some young people Wednesday night was mental health and the need for more counselors in schools.
“If we helped more to work with teenagers and their mental health and emotional support, then they would do a lot better,” said Tonajea Mixon, 16.
Many students also raised concerns about the state of public schools. Some say their buildings need basic supplies like soap, toilet paper and paper towels in the bathroom.
And of course, there’s the issue of gun violence. Two different teenagers told FOX 5 that more drop-in centers with activities would make a big difference.
“Instead of hanging out and dying of gun violence, you could be inside the recreation center playing football, basketball or sports,” Wilson said.
Andre Wilson is only in high school, but he lost his father and a friend gun violence.
“It goes on and on and doesn’t stop. Like a fight,” he said.
Wilson tells us that summits like this have the power to stop that war, especially if more children are involved. Next, the young anti-violence advocates plan to bring a list of demands compiled from the summit to city leaders.