Lt Gov Newsom & Mayor Schaaf Meet TNT Youth Leaders on Prop 63
You can learn a lot from the young people of East Oakland. Youth ALIVE! figured that out over 25 years ago, when our Teens on Target (TNT) youth leadership program was founded at Castlemont High School. TNT participants are trained to become violence prevention educators themselves, but they are also encouraged to speak up, to make their voices heard in the effort to create a more just and peaceful community. California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf got a reminder of the value of TNT last week when they gathered with TNT youth leaders and other Castlemont students to discuss Prop 63, a November ballot measure to restrict ammunition sales and ban large capacity gun magazines.
Soon the discussion turned personal and very interesting.
Asked if they had been affected directly by violence, just about everyone raised a hand. TNT youth leader Maria Zapien told about her mother’s murder in a drive-by. Maria was 7 years old at the time. Former TNT violence prevention educator Caheri Gutierrez, who now works in the Mayor’s office, told of her own shooting and near-death in 2008 when she was 18.
Students talked about their anger, their fear, about lost friends and how these things affect their health and their own decision-making. It is their lives that are most at stake and they have the wisdom and ability to change things. Being mentored, being heard by state and city leaders, making a difference in their own lives and the lives of their peers, these are the goals of TNT.
“You guys are the solution” said Lt. Gov. Newsom. “The fact that you’re helping each other, that’s a profound thing.”