Mayor Andre Dickens Announces 2023 As “Year Of The Youth” In Atlanta. Here’s How The Community Is Putting Youth First

Saving our Sons Session

Next Level Boys Academy, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, and the Empowerment Center hosted a free mentoring session for young Black men at City Hall on December 17, 2022. During the “Saving our Sons” session young men shared their truths and received knowledge from a village of people from the community.

The Academy is a mentoring organization for boys and young adult men ages five to 25 with a focus on social and emotional development. At the session, Founder Gary Davis introduced a young man they helped escape jail time by providing him with months-long programming to better his life.

The organization also provides a safe space for mothers to share with other mothers who don’t always have a community of their own.

Mayor Andre Dickens and youth at the launch of the Summer Youth Employment Program.
Mayor Andre Dickens and youth at the launch of the Summer Youth Employment Program. (Picture by City of Atlanta)

Betterment of the Youth

According to Dickens, since he’s been in office, he and the city with the help of nonprofits and others, have created and expanded multiple initiatives targeted toward the betterment of the youth, such as the Summer Youth Employment Program.

Over the summer, Dickens said the program employed 3,000 youth ages 14-24 years old. According to the statistics provided at the session, the city spent $1.4 million on stipends for the youth, and $2.5 million was funded by employers.

“Atlanta is a group project. We have to do the group project together,“ said Dickens.

Year of the Youth

To continue his efforts to support youth, Dickens announced 2023 as the “Year of the Youth” for the City of Atlanta. But even with the city increasing its support, the youth still feel unheard.

A 17-year-old panelist said he began to act out because he didn’t know how to release his anger. He was frustrated about his father being in prison, being in a house full of women with no one to talk to, and living in poverty, so he chose to take it out on others.

Another panelist mentioned how he wished he could go back a few years to stop himself from skipping school.

A 14-year-old panelist mentioned his struggles with education and how schools should find a way to use social media as a method of teaching. It’s evident that the young men want someone to see them, hear them, and intervene in a healthy way.

Take Aways

The Academy session ended with people feeling hopeful and ready to take action, but this wasn’t the only recent event that had youth on the mind.

Capital B Atlanta, a local newsroom nonprofit, hosted a panel to discuss what public safety looks like for Black people. Although the focus was on the general public, the youth was a big part of the discussion.

Some of the conversations touched on how the youth are contributing to their own safety or lack of and then others focused on how to provide resources and support to help our youth avoid pitfalls.

At both events, no one had all the answers but everyone is ready to provide a better world for the youth.

Nyesha Stone founded Carvd N Stone in 2017 to cover positive news while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Stone has a B.A. in Journalism. She has raised over $30,000 to award grants and scholarships. She has also been featured in ESSENCE and worked with the American Black Film Festival.

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