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Inaugural Louisville Metro Youth Council in planning phase for this year’s National Youth Violence Prevention Week

Ten people sit at tables in a U-shape. They are facing toward the front of a room where a projection of an image showing the intersections of identities is displayed behind a speaker.
Breya Jones
/
LPM
Louisville's Youth Metro Council aims to address the issues facing youth by placing power in young people's hands.

Members of the Metro Youth Council are planning Louisville’s version of the National Youth Violence Prevention Week for next month.

Members of Louisville’s inaugural Metro Youth Council are in the process of planning for National Youth Violence Prevention Week.

The council is composed of 26 young people, ages 16 to 24, representing Louisville Metro Council districts. The body is part of the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods’ YES! Youth Engagement Services division.

Under former Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration, a similar youth advisory board existed, called the Youth Implementation Team.

The new board’s members aim to show the power civic engagement can have for others their age and show those in power that young people care about improving their communities.

“I think it’s been really easy to write off young people and their political interests and ideas,” said Atticus Yarbrough, the District 21 representative.

Yarbrough joined the council with the goal of addressing homelessness and how a lack of resources contributes to other issues.

“A lot of the work I think we’re able to accomplish is eliminating the factors that lead to that kind of [gun] violence in the first place,” Yarbrough said. “Trying to address the desperation that leads people to commit crimes like that by making sure they have the resources they need: shelter, safety, food, a good education.”

Members have been meeting regularly since the start of this year, preparing to present issues affecting youth to Metro Government and planning the Youth Violence Prevention Week from March 27 to April 1.

“We’ve been setting up a slew of events from Monday through Saturday of that week where we’ll be going to different locations in the city, hosting various events,” Yarbrough said.

Though still in the planning stages, some events slated for the week include a youth programming vendor fair, open mic night, youth discussion panel and community art project unveiling.

Members of the council say they’re happy the city is allowing them to lead planning for an awareness event focused on them.

“I believe the youth in our city have been disenfranchised and there’s a lack of hope,” said Zion Smith, District 15 representative.

Smith said it’s particularly important to include youth in these discussions because they will be who is leading society in the future.

“Youth will eventually morph into the new adults, they are going to be a new age,” Smith said. “If we want to fix some of these problems we have to start with the youth.”

While young people’s reliance on technology may allow some to discount their voices, Smith said it provides them with the opportunity to bring innovation to addressing existing issues. He said by understanding the ways young people interact with technology and social media, the youth council is better equipped to draw in others their age.

There are still open spaces on the Metro Youth Council for districts 7, 10, 11 and 18. Young people can apply on the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods’ website.

Support for this story was provided in part by theJewish Heritage Fund.

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News LouisvilleYouth Reporting
Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.