Elmira, N.Y. (WENY) - The YWCA of Elmira hosted local high school students on Thursday for their Youth Summit Community Report Out Session.
The students shared presentations on issues such as respect, violence, social media, relationships, and drugs, alcohol and tobacco. YWCA Director of Youth Services A'Don Allen says it's important for the students to know their concerns and opinions are being taken seriously. He says, "I think it's important because I think the kids need to know that their voice does mean something. I think the kids, especially nowadays, I don't think they think they have a voice and I think they want people to understand that they do understand what their problems and what their issues are and they want the help."
Issues such as drugs, alcohol and tobacco are prevalent, not just in our communities, but also in our high schools. His son, also named A'Don Allen, is a student at Elmira High School. He says, "I actually know someone I grew up with who currently is a drug dealer. It's just sad."
Another issue students brought to light was the issue of mental health, which they say touches us all in one way or another. Horseheads High School student Matison Bifano says, "Everybody goes through mental health, everybody has their up and down days and even though you feel like there's no one you can talk to about it, there are people. There's always someone who understands you and if not there's always someone you can reach out to that can try to help you."
The students appreciate that their words are being taken seriously. Bifano says, "It feels pretty amazing that they want to know what we are going through, they want to help us in any way shape or form and having student voices come out and be able to do it and speak for everybody is really nice."
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