Living Democracy

Youth Come Together to Discuss Selma’s Future

students at Selma forumStudent representatives from high schools in Selma and Dallas County concluded that more opportunities to do things together would be a step in the right direction for their community.

A group of 24 students from area high schools participated in the “Strengthening Selma’s Future” forum on Friday, April 17.

At the beginning of the forum, one student suggested there are “people who want to be lead, but there are no leaders.”  By the end of the forum, the teens said they realized that they could be the leaders the community needs.

Using guidelines from the David Mathews Center for Civic Life, moderator Blake Evans from Auburn University provided opportunities for the diverse group to consider possibilities for the future.  He was assisted by Auburn University’s Living Democracy student Illyshia Parker.

Notes from Selma forumCallie Nelson, Dallas County Extension coordinator, hosted the forum held at the Selma-Dallas County Public Library.

The group started by listing Selma’s assets. All of the teens agreed that the city’s  history was at the top of the list. They also mentioned Selma’s potential and hospitality as reasons why they valued their hometown.

Students were then encouraged to speak out on areas that could be improved. Students voiced concerns about vacant buildings downtown and about the appearance of other areas of town.

As the conversation continued, the teens said that lack of diversity in area schools was a problem. Stereotypes and being stuck in the past were other obstacles, they observed.

In the next phase of the forum, students discussed actions that could address their concerns about the future.  Having more opportunities to work together in activities that promote developing a tight-knight community, particularly for youth, was a top priority.

The youth suggested that events that bring students from different schools together could help erase long-standing boundaries and stereotypes.

image from Selma forumSeveral students in the group held offices in their respective Student Government Association groups at their school.  Nelson encouraged them to use their leadership positions as a platform to move plans discussed at the forum ahead.

Parker, who will be living and working in Selma this summer, told the group she would be available to assist in moving their plans for community events to bring teens together forward.

By Illyshia Parker
Last Updated: May 15, 2015