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Students share ideas and concerns at Teen Town Hall

Youth-adult dialogue to talk about school, home and community concerns
Posted at 3:28 PM, Nov 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-08 20:09:30-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — A Teen Town Hall took place at Amphitheater High School, hosted by the Metropolitan Education Commission. Healthy relationships, mental health, substance abuse and teen suicide were four of the 12 topics covered in today's teen town hall involving students from across southern Arizona. They discussed things that happen during school, at home and around the community that they want to change.

"We're going to compile all of these together and we're going to create a report that we take to the state capitol with the state legislators and show them, 'These are the numbers, these are what the students are concerned about, we need to take this and take action," said James May, a teen the Youth Advisory Council.

The town hall is operated in dialogue circles. The MEC said this layout gives each student a chance to voice their opinions and is a better format than the traditional panel-one-speaker setup.

"We tried it for the first time last year and it was a big success. The youth felt that they were actually listened to and that they all got to speak and share their concerns," said Arlene Benavidez, the executive director of the MEC. Concerns that don't necessarily line up with adults'. "There's quite a disconnect as to what our adults are thinking and what our youth are thinking."

MEC said the town hall opens the floor to the students and provides a space to try to bridge that gap between teens and adults.

"The vibe I get from these students is something is finally being done for what we're talking about. Because the adults aren't in the classrooms all the time, they're not at our houses all the time, they're not there when we're dealing with these problems," said May.

This was the 25th annual Teen Town Hall put on by the MEC was also sponsored by Pima County, City of Tucson, the Pima County School Superintendent’s Office, and the Center for Community Dialogue.