Caddo students working to get other teens involved in the community
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - “Preparing the future for the future,” that’s the goal of two Caddo Parish high school students looking to get fellow teens involved in the community.
Kingson Wills, a senior at C.E. Byrd High School, and Autumn Sommers, a senior at Caddo Magnet High School, are both co-founders of the Peoples Promise Youth Division.
“We are working on getting the youth civically educated throughout Caddo Parish and hopefully expand that throughout all of Louisiana,” Wills said. “I became involved when I saw the work Breka Peoples was doing. I saw what she was doing in the Shreveport community and throughout Louisiana. I also had a summer internship with a defense attorney and once I saw what they were doing I realized the youth aren’t really educated on the problems that the youth are facing. I thought we needed to do something to get them educated about their issues in the community.”
Wills says in response to recent fights at Southwood, their group is reaching out to students at the high school to make connections and get their perspective on what’s been going on.
“We’ve heard a lot from administrators and how they want to be tough on violence this year,” Wills said. “But we want to see what the students are talking about.”
“Our mission is to essentially lead the future and to promote it,” Sommers said. “So often our government neglects us because we are not yet eligible to vote, but we understand that just because we are not 18 yet, just because we are not adults yet, doesn’t mean our voices don’t matter. Someone needs to represent us and since no one else will, we have to.”
Sommers also spent her summer interning at a criminal defense law firm.
“Through that I found so often that what happens is adults that get into trouble, adults in the criminal justice system often have trouble in their youth. We have to ask ourselves why does this happen. It happens because when they are in their early years, we are not actually helping them. Suspending students, expelling students who are involved in gang activity, is that really going to help them or is it just punishing them? I noticed a trend that so many times adults who get in trouble in the criminal justice system were also in trouble in their school system and the school did nothing about it or over-punished them.”
Both students spoke at the Caddo School Board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 22 with several board members commending them for getting involved.
They mainly touched on their mission of having Caddo students be more civically engaged, have a better understanding of issues that affect them in the community and actively participate in solving those issues. They also spoke on the Caddo Strong Start 2.0.
They said the district’s current policy on COVID-19 conflicts expert’s COVID-19 guidelines. They handed out documents to the board members with policy recommendations. They say they hope to work with the Caddo School Board on a range of issues in the future.
“Working with the Caddo Parish School Board will really help us make the change we want to make,” Sommers said. “We want to make real change. We don’t want to just sit here and talk about it. We want to actually do it. We have spoken to Superintendent Goree and everyone has been super perceptive of what we are doing and we are really excited to start working with them.”
The Peoples Promise Youth Division says they hope to hold their first meeting soon.
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