Seattle Teens Party For Peace 2010
Seattle teens, especially Black Seattle teens, are rarely seen in a positive light. Who could forget the shocking video of the metro bus tunnel assault a few months ago, or more recently, two teens fighting a Seattle police officer after a jaywalking stop erupted into something else entirely- taking on a life of it’s own.
In the last year (much like any other year) there have been shootings, fights, murders and even pimping and prostitution- all involving our youth. We see it on the news all the time- so much so, we forget (or ignore, or discredit) the positive things they are involved in.
Last night saw the 2nd annual All City Teen Dance Party For Peace, held at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, spearheaded by Chukunde Salisbury and many involved in teen outreach including (but certainly not limited to) Cara Atchison, Jazmyn Scott and Sahara Anthony Jr.
There are too many names to mention, because there was a crew of more than 130 volunteers (including yours truly) from community members, parents, coaches, mentors, concerned citizens- and at least 1 staffer from the Mayor’s office. Also on hand were a number of Seattle Police Officers, private security and Seattle Center staff- we were all there for the same reason- to make sure the event went well from the first beat to the last.
The youth themselves also deserve a great amount of credit. While the dance is city wide and open to all high schoolers (except incoming frosh) students had to be sponsored by designated adults in their community to be able to attend. They also had to take a pledge for peace beforehand.
In all, more than 800 students attending this years event. It’s free for the youth, but there are costs associated with putting on an event of this size. This year private security had to be hired- to the tune of $3700 dollars.
There is also another cost- more like a gamble. Many question whether an event like the Party For Peace can be successful- whether kids from waring neighborhoods and schools can come together for one night and not have any problems. The reputations of the organizers was also on the line. Cara Atchison explained it last year:
“…it really was a risk, and that’s what I keep explaing to the youth; we’ve all put our names, our jobs, our reputations on the line to be able to do this, and if it goes really bad, really fast, that’s all you’ll hear about, and there won’t be another opportunity to do this. That was motivation in itself, to show that we can get the youth together and do something positive…”
It’s a gamble that paid off. For the second year in a row Seattle’s Teens embraced peace, came together and had fun.
The mainstream media wasn’t there to bring you this story- just like they weren’t there last year. That’s because they believe good news doesn’t sell as well as news of death, violence and lawlessness. It’s one of the many reasons why Seattleites generally aren’t aware when our youth are involved in positive activities.
But at a time when Seattle youth have little in or around the city that is for them, events like these are needed more than ever. Our youth know ‘the bad’ all too well. It’s incumbent on us to help them balance that out with more opportunities to experience ‘the good’.
Party for peace 2011- see you there.