Santa Maria teens lead town hall in response to recent violence - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Santa Maria teens lead town hall in response to recent violence

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Young people in the Santa Maria Valley met Thursday night on how to reduce teen violence.

More than 100 people showed up for a youth-led town hall in response to the Santa Maria Mayor's Youth Task Force.

Students talked about wanting more resources for mental health, safer streets, and transit. Students want to be involved in the task force's decision-making process, saying it affects their futures.

Students in Santa Maria filled the Veterans Memorial building with new ideas on how to better their community. 

"I've been inspired, I guess, to be more involved in my community," said Leydi Rios, a senior at Santa Maria High School.

Many students wrote down what they thought was good about Santa Maria, such as having young leaders.

"Many students are here to make a difference and change in the U.S.," Rios said.

Students also shed light on what they felt was bad in their community. Rios spoke about street safety, saying she wanted to see additional crosswalks, street lights, and more patrols.

"I do not feel safe outside of school," Rios told KSBY News. "I feel like, if we had more patrolling, it would be safer for kids, adults, anybody."

Students split into groups to discuss specifics on transit, police, probation and adding more dropout prevention programs.

"Sometimes, us as adults, we forget they have great ideas, brilliant minds," said Joana Barerra with C.A.U.S.E.

Internship and job-training opportunities with local businesses were also mentioned. Many teens wanted more resources to obtain a higher-education for their career goals, too.

Students wrote down dozens of potential solutions for reducing youth violence and providing resources to their peers. They'll be bringing the ideas straight to the city.

The next Santa Maria Mayor's Youth Task Force meeting is October 23.

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