The first ever meeting between Youth Voice and Mayor Dave Bing produced some impressive results for the young activists, including significant commitments from the mayor and his staff and national media attention.
Youth Voice is a grassroots organizing effort designed to give youth a greater voice in the city and public policy. The effort stems from a collaborative of youth-serving organizations in southwest Detroit. Southwest Solutions and youth leadership programs at Southwest Counseling Solutions play key roles in the collaborative.
About 40 youth with Youth Voice met with Mayor Bing in his offices on June 3. Also present were lead members of the Mayor’s staff to answer to youth questions about abandoned housing, youth employment, safety and gangs, and recreational opportunities.
After listening to the well-crafted presentations from leaders of the group, the mayor and his staff agreed to several of their requests. The mayor pledged to meet with Youth Voice subcommittees on a regular basis to address specific concerns. He agreed to set up a meeting with the chief of police and to urge Robert Bobb, emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools, to meet with Youth Voice. He promised to investigate the list complied by Youth Voice of unsafe, abandoned homes near schools. Finally, he agreed to review the city’s policies about youth employment, and funding and operational hours for youth recreational facilities.
“We’ll team up and make things happen,” the mayor told the youth. “I will give you all the support you need to move forward.”
The meeting with Mayor Bing was covered by Fox2-TV and the Associated Press (AP), which distributed the story on its national wire service. The next day, CNN arranged a live satellite interview with two leaders of Youth Voice, Jasmine Boatwright and Latrice McCants. Jasmine and Latrice both work as youth advocates for Southwest Counseling. Their interview with CNN can be viewed on the Southwest Solutions website (www.swsol.org).
The youth who attended the meeting with the mayor were unanimously pleased with what they accomplished and mayor’s responsiveness. “The meeting was a very important step for us,” said Jasmine, “but we know that we have to continue to organize and work hard to build a partnership with the mayor and change our city.”
To see the Facebook photo essay: Youth Voice meets with Mayor Bing