The Power Of Youth This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   When you hear about the South Bronx, you automatically think of violence. Because of this, I'm an advocate for anti-violence. I was involved with the Congressman Jose Serrano and Attorney General Janet Reno's Town Hall on youth violence.

The event consisted of 250 youths. My peers are violence prone and don't know how to deal with their problems. They learned how to approach problems in a different way. It was hard to be sympathetic with their needs. Most of the participants came from the South Bronx. Drugs, violence, and diseases pollute the streets of my community. But instead of complaining, I joined forces with 25 youth facilitators. We tried to break down barriers and prejudices in my community.

Since most came from this area, I had to gain their respect, which is hard to receive from people who usually get their respect by killing or beating someone. Even carrying a gun means "respect" to them.

The first thing I had to do was look them straight in the eye. Doing this told them I was not joking. It also told them they had to respect me. Second, I had to be polite. Third, I had to have an immense amount of patience.

One person in particular really became resistant and upset. She made me feel uneasy because of her behavior. During my workshop she caught an attitude with me and everyone else. But by the end, she came to me with tears welling in her eyes. She said, "Thank you" with a smile. I thought, Wow, this girl can smile. I was happy because this was a victory and I knew I had done my job.

"Sixty million ways to die: don't choose one" was my workshop. We discussed how violence affects the youth of the '90s and different ways to approach a conflict.

After the event, the youth facilitators had an opportunity to speak with Congressman Jose Serrano, who complimented us on our excellent job. He said he has never been so proud of teenagers from the Bronx.

This conference gave me the insight to make a difference in my community. Now I'm part of Congressman Serrano's Youth Advisory Council. He wants to pass a bill for teenagers and wants youth advisors to help him. I'm extremely excited about being part of this advisory council. fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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