Helping Toledo's Youth: Mayor responds at community forum

Helping Toledo's Youth: Mayor responds at community forum

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - "Fighting for our Youth" was the title of Tuesday night's roundtable discussion at The Tabernacle church in Central Toledo.

The church's panel and a young Toledo role model, posed some tough questions to the mayor there.

Pastor Calvin Sweeney wanted to host the  event because of what he's been seeing among young people in the central area of the city.

"Being a pastor in this community, we're involved in all four schools around this community. So young people's future is very important to us," he said.

Pastor Sweeney is a former Toledo educator. He said  many people are working two or three jobs these days and don't have the time to get involved.

"So we've got to become innovative in our approach," he said. "I think once the conversation gets going, some innovative ideas will come up."

Alycia Baumgardner, a young Toledo boxer, helped moderate tonight's panel hoping to hear some new ideas from Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.

She feels passionately about being a role model and finding actionable ways to impact Toledo's young people.

"Coming together and communicating, and not using violence as a way out of things," said Baumgardner.

And she pulled no punches on her questions, when she asked what the mayor plans to do about the crisis of violence among the city's youth.

The mayor responded by saying "more collaboration." She wants to involve young people more in what the city is doing and said she's already working to collaborate with other organizations.

"Each of the organizations, TPS, City, social service agencies, churches, non-profits, will have a way in which we can attack these neighborhoods, not from the fiscal perspective but also these other issues as well," said Mayor Hicks-Hudson.

Pastor Sweeney said  this is just the beginning of a series of community discussions to bring change

"It's not impossible. If you get positive people and leadership, you can definitely make something happen," Sweeney said.

The other Mayoral candidate, Wade Kapszukiewicz, was already at his own campaign event to get his ideas for engaging Toledo's youth.

"There's no question that there are not enough positive options for kids in our city," he said. "There just aren't."

Kapszukiewicz said beefing up the police force is just part of the equation. But he also said young people need more positive things to do like bringing back city sports leagues and improving parks by partnering with the Metro Parks.

He said he's already met with Metro Parks leaders and they're on board.

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