DENVER (CBS4) – Just one day after a deadly school shooting in Washington state, mentors and students in Colorado were taking action to keep students safe.
The 2014 Colorado Youth Summit took place Saturday at North High School with the focus on empowering teens and getting them involved.
Organizers said the summit was about helping youth be a part of the solution — one that will keep them in school, away from drugs and violence, and on the path for success.
The classrooms of North High transformed into stages of dance and theatre improvisation with direction from adult leaders and mentors. The students are building confidence through performing arts.
“We need to make sure that youth are connected so that they’re able to make good choices,” said Ana Soler with Colorado 9to25, a group of youth and adults working to align efforts and achieve positive outcomes for all youth.
Soler said the youth summit was aimed to create community in hopes of preventing poor choices, such as Friday’s deadly school shooting in Washington state; or the plight of three Overland High School students under investigation for allegedly trying to join Islamic State forces in Syria.
“We start with safe, healthy and educated as the bottom level of the hierarchy of needs, and then we want to focus on connected and contributing, because everyone needs to feel connected to something or to somebody,” Soler said.
It’s a connection teaching interpersonal skills to help teens communicate with peers in crisis.
“The more we get involved with our peers, the more people we hang around with will feel more comfortable and open to more opportunities, because some people just don’t have a choice,” Rifle High School student Naphawan Jamjaroenjit said.
Volunteer youth advisors like Mae Thompson hope the positive outlet makes teens realize they have options.
“Creating an environment where young people can express how they feel will ultimately, hopefully, help prevent these kinds of situations from happening,” Thompson said.
Organizers say it took about a year of planning for the summit to come to fruition, and most of that planning was led by youth.
LINK: Colorado 9to25