Giving youth a voice

Local leaders team up to host youth forum June 11

Giving youth a voice is important. But, just as important is listening to what they have to say.

That’s why Federal Way Councilman Jesse Johnson has teamed up with local media company, Rugged Genius, to host a youth forum from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, June 11, at Decatur High School, 2800 SW 320th St.

The event will feature a student panel.

“We have all of the high schools – all six, actually, including the alternative schools – that nominated three students reps from each school, and they are going to be part of the panel,” Johnson said.

The event is student-led.

“We really want to give youth a platform to talk about a number of things, like what matters to them in terms of the city, what direction Federal Way is headed, what is happening in their schools and the local and national issues,” Johnson said.

The idea for the forum stemmed from a recent barbershop talk Johnson hosted.

“One of the things we noticed, we wanted it to be questions from the youth, and the adults just took over the conversation. The youth were kind of just sitting there,” he said. “One of the youth from Decatur afterward said to me, ‘we need to do this in the schools but we want us to have a voice in it, not just the adults.’”

The goal of the forum is to give youth that voice while also having adults listen.

Johnson has invited local leaders, as well as state legislators representing Federal Way, to attend the forum.

“I want them to be there to listen,” Johnson said. “From there, the conversation could go a number of ways. It would be nice at the end to get a sense of what folks thought of it.”

Dennis Lamont Styles, one of the founders of Rugged Genius who is helping to facilitate the forum, said it is important to engage the youth.

“Most times people don’t ask the kids what they think,” Styles said. “A lot of the things that affect them, it is more so the adults up here fighting and then saying this is what they need. But they don’t really get what they need. They have the answers. … They know everything that is going on in the schools. How come we don’t use them as a source for the solution?”

Bringing the community together is key to finding solutions, Styles said.

“There is a gap between the older generation and the younger generation,” he said. “This is kind of an attempt to bridge that gap. We really want to know what is on their mind. The whole platform is for us to sit back and give them a platform because if you actually listen to them speak, they’re not as lost as we think that they are.”

In addition to the panel discussion, the event will also feature a resource fair beginning at 5:30 p.m. There will be opportunities for youth to connect with local resources as well as register to vote.

Refreshments will be provided by the Federal Way Youth Action Team and Keyz to the Kitchen catering.

Pizza Pizazz will supply the school that has the most students at the forum with a pizza party.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

Jesse Johnson

Jesse Johnson

More in News

Federal Way mayor hosts first public forum for African American, Black communities

The virtual meeting welcomed more than 100 attendees on July 29.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Honda
Applications now being accepted for vacant Federal Way City Council position

Applications must be submitted by 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28.

Primary election 2020: Who will emerge as Inslee’s challenger?

Voting ends Tuesday in an election without big rallies and fund-raisers and face-to-face debates

Sex ed, local control at heart of race for WA state schools chief

Incumbent Chris Reykdal faces five foes who argue he’s pushing too many state policies on school districts.

Free COVID-19 testing at Federal Way High School today

Members of the Pacific Islander community are strongly encouraged to attend, organizers say.

Stock image
Federal Way Police Department to host drive-thru ice cream social

Drive-thru ice cream social with the cops from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6 at Celebration Park in Federal Way.

Kids of God Academy (KOGA) raise brightly colored fans during their performance at the Flavor of Federal Way multicultural festival in 2019. File photo
Virtual, weeklong Flavor of Federal Way celebration begins Aug. 3

The Federal Way Diversity Commission’s annual Flavor of Federal Way will be… Continue reading

Hometown Heroes: Local students offer to take free senior photos due to pandemic

TJHS seniors Natalie Johnson and Annabeth Meisel want to help every student feel celebrated amid COVID-19 uncertainty.

Most Read