YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – They’re not even old even to vote, but a group of local students is being called the Peacemakers.
The teens want to help reduce violence in Youngstown and are starting with a meeting involving the mayor and police chief.
The group consists of about 57 students from Youngstown City Schools, Youngstown Christian School, Summit Academy and the Academy of Urban Scholars who are working with teachers, counselors and members of the C.I.R.V. (Community Initiative to Reduce Violence) with a mission to look at their peer setting and set up programs and processes to make sure violence doesn’t happen in their schools.
The Peacemakers presented their plan Tuesday to Mayor John McNally and Police Chief Robin Lees.
“We are going to take 50 freshmen and we are going to ask them questions. We are going to have small groups to connect with them to help them become leaders,” said East High School junior Tawanda Dowd.
Assemblies, leadership programs and mentoring younger students will all be part of the program. Guy Burney with Youngstown C.I.R.V. said students at this age are very capable of taking on issues such as bullying, violence and peer pressure adding that they are more aware than adults of what is going on and how to manage conflicts.
“They are more than capable to look at these issues and not only look to solve them, but prevent the younger generation from getting involved in those things,” said Burney.
Darrick Alvarez is a junior at Youngstown Christian School and one of his initiatives involves a special place for students to air their concerns anonymously.
“We are introducing this project called a prayer box for Jesus that people can tell their problems and it all remains anonymous,” Alvarez said.
The mayor is on board with the plan. He said students helping students is a path to leadership.
“We need young people to step up and become leaders in their neighborhoods and this is a great way to do that,” McNally said.
The Peacemakers will eventually make themselves available for students who want talk in person and address their problems.