We know that youth in Kentucky are key to creating positive change for kids, and their leadership galvanizes other youth, parents, educators, community leaders, and legislators. In the Kentucky Youth Speak Up series, students advocate for policies, encourage other youth to serve their communities, promote strategies for student success, and motivate all of us to build the best commonwealth for Kentucky kids.

dsc03182By Brittany Carson

When I was a child, I never imagined waking up to flashing lights, sirens, or the sound of gun shots. I often dreamed of saving the lives of others and providing them with support to ensure that they are successful. I never would have thought that two people that I recently graduated with would be on the news for something so heartbreaking.

I remember seeing caution tape lining homes and the street corner where my friend was murdered. The scene was extremely chaotic. The victim’s family and friends were very emotional as detectives were combing through the streets searching for answers. Paramedics were on the pavement attempting to save the life of my friend, while the other victim was covered in white sheets. The lives that are lost to gun violence leave the community in mourning and desperate for positive outlets.

As someone who aspires to be a leader, here are my suggestions for building a stronger community:

Community Programs for Change

  • Gatherings from different neighborhood associations
  • Events–health fair, meet and greets, free festivals, blessings in backpacks
  • Neighborhood yard sales, mental health awareness week, and safety workshops
  • More support from parents; especially teen parents

Programs accessible for youth:

  • Hold free financial literacy classes in neighborhoods
  • Coordinate a health fair–dental, ear, and eye screenings, mental health screenings
  • Use different months to raise awareness about everyday problems, like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and child abuse awareness months

By being involved in community events, youth can obtain many skills such as:

  • Learn good work habits and social skills
  • Learn to have a positive attitude
  • Find alternative ways to handle stressors
  • Learn to set short-term and long-term goals
  • Establish appropriate relationships with community partners

Brittany Carson is with YouthBuild Louisville, which helps young people ages 18-24 earn their high school diploma or GED while getting hands-on training and work experience. Brittany also serves as a young adult leader on the First Lady’s Youth Leadership Council, which empowers youth to be a voice in the creation and implementation of policies, programs and practices that impact youth and families regarding child welfare, child abuse and neglect, and family preservation.