Youth of Santa Maria leads town hall discussion about violence

Santa Maria youth lead town hall...

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A youth-led Santa Maria group held a town hall discussion Thursday night to talk about the city's recurring violence. 

They discussed solutions to stop violence in the community, specifically the violence that young people in town are getting in to. 

"I came here because I wanted to help our community," Isabel Cruz of Santa Maria said. 

We met Isabel Cruz as she was writing a message.

"I know that our community needs a lot of help," Cruz said. 

The message read: "We care about education and becoming someone good in the world."

"Students don't care about education," Cruz said. 

Cruz wants to change that. 

"I want to make a difference.. I want people to care.. I want people to become someone," Cruz said.   

It's that hope, that brought over a hundred Santa Maria youth to the Santa Maria Veterans Memorial Thursday for a town hall discussion. 

"I'm concerned that some kids don't care, they leave school, go in to drugs, gangs," Cruz said. 

The youth there were concerned that leaving school and getting into drugs and gangs is fueling the city's recurring youth violence.

"I hope the drugs and gangs go away," Cruz said.  

Over 100 Santa Maria Valley youth joined together to discuss options for better youth services and activities in response to the continuing violence after the city’s taskforce was recently criticized for a lack of youth representation.

This community dialogue is a result of CAUSE youth leaders joining youth from Future Leaders of America and Just Communities - to ask the city to listen to the voices of the youth who are affected.

These youth groups will also ask the city to listen to the resources and programs they recommend to build a stronger and safer community. 

Youth organizations successfully pushed for two youth representatives on the Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Safety, which had come under fire from a Santa Barbara County grand jury investigation for its lack of representation of youth voices.

The discussion is open to the public and goes from 5:30 - 8 p.m. at the Veteran's Memorial Center at 313 W Tunnel Street in Santa Maria.

Groups that will be on hand include CAUSE, Future Leaders of America, Just Communities, The Fund for Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino

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