Kids' voices get heard at Youth Lives Matters forum

Kids' voices get heard at Youth Lives Matters forum

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - It's been nearly three months since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Despite time having passed, keeping our young people safe is still an idea that's fresh on our minds.

Tyrone Cleveland is a community leader representing the group that put together Wednesday night's event.

"Kids say I don't feel safe in school. Not just because of gun control, but because I'm being bullied in school. There's gangs in my school. There's drugs in my school. So we just kind of took that and said hey like, you guys, you're talking to us, but we want to steer you in the right direction so you can talk to the right people," Cleveland said.

The Youth Lives Matter forum is an opportunity for children and young adults to speak up about what they think can be done to improve their circumstances. Community stakeholders were present to listen, and use their resources to help.

Ruth Leonard, another community leader, was excited to see such a large turnout at the Frederick Douglass Community Center Wednesday evening.

"We are now at an age in history where children are being recognized as change leaders, and we want them to know that because of their positions in life that they can make a difference, and so we want to give them the autonomy and the power to speak their truth and have real change happen," Leonard said.

The event was hosted by a group called Sankofa 419, that encourages youth to learn how to become agents of change in their communities.

"Sankofa actually means to take from the past to help better your future. So with us kind of being the older people, we know the things that we've been through, we know what they're going through, we have the necessary tools and resources to help the incoming generation," explained Cleveland.

Rather than being told, or seen and not heard, as is often the case; these young members of the community made their voices heard about their concerns and the changes they want to see. Kids had the opportunity to speak about what matters to them.

Sanieya Daniels, is a 14 year old who came out to speak and help moderate the topics that her peers came out to speak about.

"I feel like a lot of this stuff needs to be addressed for today's generation because it is getting super crazy with the killing, and the murdering, and adultery. I just feel like everything needs to be talked about,"  Daniels said.

Daniels also expressed her concerns with school safety and said about going to school.

"it's scary because I never know what's going to happen, or if anybody's going to come in there and try to take a life," she said.

Cleveland said the group is about taking action, and not just talking. Look for more events like this to encourage our youth to speak out about what they need to feel safe and fulfilled in their quest toward adulthood.

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