The Not In Our Town movement and United Way of McLean County said seven recent killings in the Twin Cities make it appear youths are in crisis in the community.
“The recent, tragic shootings should be a wake-up call. We are one community, from each section of town, and when one youth is in trouble, it’s a challenge for all of us," said Mike Matejka of Not In Our Town.
United Way CEO David Taylor said his agency and Not In Our Town will hold a youth summit Aug. 18. They hope to involve a variety of stakeholders from education, health, and business sectors.
"Even beyond the violence, I think some of the trends indicate there is a mismatch, perhaps, of available workforce and some of the skill sets required. So how can we bridge some of those gaps and how can we close some of those?" said Taylor.
Taylor says it's not just a matter of lack of economic opportunity for young people. He says there have to be ongoing conversations about action to help young adults fulfill their potential.
Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said he endorses the summit.
"The City of Bloomington will be an active partner in this effort. We need all sectors – business, churches, education, labor, agencies – pulling together for a safe and nurturing community for our youth,” said Renner.
And Mayor Chris Koos of Normal said gathering a group like this to determine needs and identify solutions is a good first step.
“It is heartbreaking that while adolescence should be a time of growing possibilities, our young people are instead increasingly faced with more and more vulnerabilities. A safe, healthy passage from adolescence into a productive and fulfilling adulthood is the right of every child," said Koos.
Taylor said there were suggestions at a GLT community conversation about gun violence that there is a lack of support for post high school young adults in Bloomington-Normal.
Taylor says the summit will start a dialogue and lead to action items in the areas of access to jobs, healthy lifestyles, education, recreation, and other opportunities.
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