Anderson High School students express their concerns in Madison County

Feb. 9—ANDERSON — Students and educators from Anderson High School took part in "The Voices of Youth" program to share ideas and concerns.

The event Thursday was sponsored by the More and Diverse Voices of Madison County ,which is striving to get input from students on issues facing the community.

"We want to provide solutions on how to address the issues facing our community," student Connor King said. "We are taking this opportunity to present the findings to everyone."

King said students from throughout Madison County were surveyed with the stated goals of addressing safety, diversity and to foster relationships.

"Our group wants to hear from more and diverse voices," organizer Candy Short said. "We wanted to hear from our youth."

The students in attendance were asked to fill out a questionnaire.

"We'll gather the answers in the survey," Short said. "The next presentation will be what the students are saying.

"We want to present ideas and be advocates for them," she said. "We have a core group that is working to bring change."

Student Tannesha Samuels said the student surveys showed concerns about safety, crimes and violence, unsafe places and relationships.

A student during a round table discussion said they were looking for places that are welcoming, safe and diverse.

Another student mentioned that there are some after school programs but the information is not readily available.

Student Michelle Ogunnaike addressed discrimination, a lack of acceptance, language barriers and witnessing people being mistreated.

The group is using the word BELONG to emphasis those goals — believe in each other; equality; listen; optimistic; nourishment of others and giving.

Student Lydia Williams said there is a lack of connectivity in the community and the older generation of county residents are not accepting of change.

The students said they trusted parents and those teachers that were welcoming to bring about change.

A concern was that educators are required by law to report some incidents to the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Samuels asked what an ideal world would like for the students.

Several said that rules are not equally enforced and are contradictory.

They were also a concern about hatred and that students never know when someone will pull out a gun or try to hurt someone.

"People who are happy don't want to shoot someone," Samuels said.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.