Meeting the future

When our group recently met for the first time, we gathered at the high school in Allendale and talked about the trip to Vermont. This will be the Alani and Sameia’s first time flying so we spoke about the experience of going through post-9/11 security checks, complimentary sodas and pretzels, and how much the small airport in Columbia, SC, and the small airport in Burlington, VT, have in common. We also covered the necessary and surprising reality that everyone must pack at least one sweatshirt or fleece to endure the cold summer nights in Vermont. Mrs. Christine Brown, Alani and Sameia’s chaperone and Sameia’s mom, is an English teacher in the district and shares our enthusiasm for the events ahead.

As I explained what the Next Generation Leadership Network hopes to accomplish, Alani and Sameia brought up some concerns of their own that they thought young people would be good at addressing in Allendale. Their concerns include bullying and violence and also not having any where in the community for kids to hang out to keep out of trouble. In the 21st century, community spaces made available to young people to explore, create, learn, and be safe in are certainly valuable and worth securing. Alani and Sameia both also use and love snapchat and instagram and think they will be able to help us gather photographic/video evidence to document Allendale as only someone living in Allendale could. This is exciting.

We are a fledgling group, but we hope to grow and include more young people from Allendale and Aiken in the projects that we collaboratively design for the future. We are all excited to meet up with other young people and mentors who support giving youth a voice in public spaces and who are already engaging in action projects. We hope to learn, to engage, and be influenced by the Vermont meeting and can’t wait to begin.

Lillian Reeves

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