COLUMBIA — Local teens were encouraged Tuesday night to "take a good look at how you're livin' " at a town hall event to discuss crime in the community.
“Take a good look at how you’re livin’. Is how you’re livin’ life givin’ and community buildin’?" Javier Sanchez asked, while Shaun Derick played background on the keyboard during an opening performance at “Your CoMo—Your Vision: Teens Speak Out on Crime.”
“Your CoMo—Your Vision” was an event to get teens, specifically between the ages of 15 and 17, talking about crime and discussing solutions, Fifth Ward City Councilwoman Laura Nauser said.
Sanchez and Derick, both from R.E.A.C.H. Communications Inc., an educational organization that uses the performing arts to deliver life-building messages, were the entertainers at the event.
The presentation was a collaboration among the Columbia City Council, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Columbia Public Schools, Boone County Juvenile Office, Columbia Police Department, Missouri Division of Youth Services, Youth Community Coalition and Minority Men’s Network. It was funded as part of a communications grant from the city to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
About 50 teens who attended the event went from eating pizza and chatting noisily in a council conference room to the City Council chambers, where Sanchez and Derick performed. It was there that the participants were given an assignment to make their own presentations.
One group wrote and read a poem on bullying, called “Our City,” while Derick played background keyboard. Another group performed a skit on the topic of peer pressure.
The standout performance of the night came from a group that focused on the issue of school safety. A skinny, blonde teen had the crowd roaring with laughter while she rapped with nine other students, who repeated between her lines: “Safe Schoooooools, you gotta keep it safe. Safe Schooooools.”
Other performances included a rap on technology and a recitation on “being the change.”
Cameras off to the side captured the performances. The footage will be made into a video that will be presented to the council and the Columbia School Board.
Sadie Sarrazin, a 17-year-old senior from Hickman High School, attended the event after hearing about it in H.O.P.E Club (Helping Our Peers Everywhere) at school.
“I really liked Javier, the speaker," she said. "He was really energetic and fun. I also enjoyed the breakout sessions because you got to see each person’s unique skills and how they contributed to the topic.”