Venessa Collins-Smith & Wendy Flora, co-chairs
The Youth Violence Prevention Task Force had a powerful start to the Future Leaders for Peace Initiative. Two youth leadership training sessions and two youth-led round table discussions were held in March. The discussions centered around the topic of bullying and leadership. Our young people, from Gull Lake, Portage, Kalamazoo and Parchment, were phenomenal. Parents were appreciative of this youth-focused dialogue and informed us that there is a need to engage youth in leadership and social justice movements. More Future Leaders for Peace events will be take place in the coming months.
Thanks to everyone who participated and showed support, including the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (Chief Hadley, Public Safety Officers Weidbrauk, Millard, and Diaz), Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department (Undersheriff Paul Matyas), and Kalamazoo Public Schools (Dr. Michael Rice, Ms. Cindy Green and Ms. Nkenge Bergan) and Child and Family Psychological Services (Bridget Nolan).
A special thank you to Galilee Baptist Church under the leadership of Dr. Michael Scott and Unitarian Universalist Community Church under the leadership of Rev. Duffy Peet for hosting. Thank you to Youth Minister Dorla Bonner and Mary Roscoe for helping to organize with us. Gratitude also goes to our keynote speakers, Tanyika Smith Coleman and Michael Wilder.
Also a big shout out to our sponsors: Big Apple Bagel, Meijer, Tim Horton’s, Wal-Mart and D&W Fresh Market.