Springfield summit invites young men to discuss issues, city’s future

Denise Williams and the NAACP has set up a teen male summit for this weekend

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Denise Williams and the NAACP has set up a teen male summit for this weekend

A male teen summit this weekend will provide an opportunity for young men to express themselves and discuss their needs, organizers said.

The summit will be put on by the NAACP Springfield Unit and is for all teenage boys ages 12 to 18. It will start at noon at the Dome on Saturday.

“We want to bring all of our young men, regardless or race, together as one,” local chapter president Denise Williams said. “The community has been so divided with our young people, and we need to get them off the streets. We are trying to hear what they want to say to us. We want to know what they need.”

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Eli Williams, with Urban Light Ministries, has worked with Denise Williams to put on the event. He said the event is important for Springfield.

“So many times adults want to do to youth or for youth, but it’s important to do with youth,” Williams said. “We want to hear what it is they envision for their community and for themselves.”

He said the discussion can range widely and the group can cover several topics.

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“We want to know what’s missing from Springfield,” Eli Williams said. “What’s good, what’s bad and what is possible. You tell us what you see and then we, working with the youth, should be able to get the resources to support these young people.”

The event will open with a special video message from John Legend, Denise Williams said. The musician and Springfield native will welcome the teenagers to the event and encourage them to contribute their opinion. Denise Williams also said food will be provided at the summit.

Deontrae Ellis has also helped the group with the event. He said local youths need to know that their opinions do matter.

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“It’s important for young people to have a voice,” he said. “It is important for people to feel like they actually matter. I know what it feels like when there is a lot of mess going on and there are a lot of things you are exposed to. We want to help them.”

Denise Williams said the Springfield City School District has been helpful in making the summit a reality.

The three said they are also working on a summit for teenage girls in the Springfield community. Information for that gathering have not been released.

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