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Group organizes Turn Up! Youth Summit

With issues like derelict education leaders and a rising crime rate becoming the topics of conversation, one local group is working to give the youth of Selma and the Black Belt a louder voice in their community.

Jerria Martin, coordinator for the 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement, said the organizations Turn Up! Youth Summit, to be held this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Buskey Building Auditorium on the campus of Alabama State University in Montgomery, is an event design to give the region’s youth a chance to learn about the power of community-focused leadership and to speak out about issues affecting them.

“We have been looking over the young people when it comes to the issues of education and violence,” Martin said. “So we have to try and understand this all from their perspective.”

The day’s agenda includes three panels, which will all focus on the power of community leadership as it relates to three different age groups.

“We will start with a program featuring several current community leaders, talking about how they’ve made changes in their communities” Martin said. “Then we’ll have another group of people just out of college lead another panel, and they will be talking about how you can use the skills you learned in college to bring about positive change.”

Martin said the third panel would be made up of high school and college students discussing educational issues and overcoming violence, which will be followed by a break-out session that Martin said could be the most rewarding experience of the day for students in attendance.

“After the last panel, we will have some break out sessions, and I think that’s where we will really be separating the cream from the crop,” Martin said. “That’s when we are going to take out the laptops and the blackboard and put the problems on the board and organize ways to solve these problems.”

Martin said State Sen. Hank Sanders and Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford are two of the elected officials expected to attend Saturday. She invited all elected officials and teachers to attend the event, as well, especially the lunch session, which costs $5 and begins at 12:30 p.m. in the ASU cafeteria.

Martin said she expects 200 students to attend the event.

Anyone who is interested in attending the event, but may have transportation issues, is urged to email Martin at 21cyouthleaders@gmail.com.