Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Planners of youth summit meet Monday

Gangs, drugs and lots of violence may sell plenty of movie tickets, but these things are not as enticing in reality for Tucson teens.

That’s the reason Tucsonan Ron Blackmon, 28, decided to organize a summit to deal with these and other issues after listening to area youths.

Entitled “It’s About Time,” the first Tucson Youth Leadership Summit will take place March 7, but the first planning meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday at Desert View High School, 4101 E. Valencia Road.

Teen panelists and forum participants as well as volunteers of all ages are welcome, said Blackmon, head of the group Tucson Youth Creating Positive Change. The response so far has been huge.

“They want this,” he said.

The idea for the summit came directly from one of Blackmon’s U.S. Army experiences. The former staff sergeant served two tours in Iraq that included a community forum in Baghdad.

“We all met in an old basketball gym to discuss issues that were necessary to work on,” he said. “It worked. I took the same concept and applied it to Tucson streets.”

Blackmon has so far gathered support from United Way, the Volunteer Youth Center of Arizona, Every Voice in Action Foundation, Flowing Wells High School, Sunnyside Unified School District and other schools and districts.

“One wants to bring a bus load of 120 students,” he said. “And that’s just from one district.”

The summit will feature youths ages 13 to 18 who will discuss everything from teen pregnancy to teen suicide.

The aim is to go beyond mere discussion by creating different teams of youths who will go out into their communities to make a difference.

Booths representing colleges, and youth-oriented and other organizations will also be featured.

“We’re calling it the ‘summit meets opportunity’ fair,” he said.

Tucson Police Department officers will be in the parking lot with McGruff the Crime Dog, kids’ fingerprinting and other activities. Jumping castles will add to the outdoor activities.

“We’re even going to have a little choo-choo train,” Blackmon said. “We want to bring families in.”

For more information, attend Monday’s meeting or call Blackmon at 301-4433 or e-mail rblackmon1976@yahoo.com.

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