JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville students are working to find solutions for some of the toughest issues for teens.
They're working with a group, the I'm a Star Foundation, to develop solutions to reduce crime and bullying and transform disengaged students during their 2019 Leader to Leader Summit.
Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Gulliford and Superintendent of Duval Schools Diana Greene spoke at the summit.
Betty Burney is the founder and executive director of the I'm a Star Foundation.
"If you take a look at the statistics and a look at the information that is facing your young people, suicide is rampant, and a lot of that has to do with bullying. This is young people, middle and high school students. Also, the crime rate, where students are getting in trouble in school. We want to try to help stem that tide so they can be their best selves," Burney said.
The summit occurred Saturday morning at Stanton College Preparatory School among students, adults, parents and civil leaders.
But the teens are also solving other everyday issues.
"It gives you things that you think you should need, like scholarships, different field trips, and you get to learn ACT and SAT words, you get to practice it," said Faith Sampson, who co-chaired Saturday's event. "It's like school on Saturdays, but even better."
The students believe it is critical to resolve these issues because they hear the concerns of their parents.
"The issues that we address are definitely issues that aren't specific to certain groups," said Jordan Brown, member of the I'm A Star Foundation. "There are issues that affect everybody, for instance, crime. I mean, certain people commit the crime, but because of that, your parents don't want you to leave the house at a certain time. They want you back in the house, because crime is so bad."
Teens making a difference is a sign of hope that the future will be more peaceful and promising for all kids.
"It's just a lot to take in. Many students don't know how to control themselves with bullying and crime. Transforming disruptors into leaders, that takes a lot of leadership and encouragement and bravery to just go out and talk to people, even young people and elderly people, just to get that clarification that you can be a leader no matter how old, how tall or your size. It really doesn't matter," Sampson said.