Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mayor's task force to plan better Nashville for youths

By Jaime Sarrio • THE TENNESSEAN • January 26, 2010 A collection of school officials, student leaders, nonprofit heads and Metro employees is charged with figuring out what would make Nashville the best city possible for its youth. Mayor Karl Dean announced the 40-member task force at a press conference Monday. The group's ideas will be due to the mayor at the end of July. "The idea is to create a master plan of how we can better serve the kids of Davidson County in all facets of their life, whether in school or out of school," Dean said. "We're going to look for the areas where there are needs and how we can fill those needs." Dean has a history of using task forces to generate new ideas — a committee on high school dropouts led to the city's attendance center for truants, and a task force on special education led to new practices for educating students with special needs. Dean said he'd like to see this task force touch on transportation and health. Similar plans are in place in other cities, he said. "The National League of Cities is a big proponent of this way of approaching youth issues," he said. "It's the right time to do this in Nashville." Student is a chairman The task force has three chairs: Ronnie Steine, councilman-at-large; Renata Soto, executive director of Conexion Americas; and Martin Luther King Magnet High School student Jairus Cater. Soto said she would like to see a plan that connects nonprofits across the city and helps youth get access to them. "I don't think as a city we have a unified vision of how to engage youth and provide resources so they can become all they can be," she said. Cater, a senior, said he believes the main reason students don't make it to college is because of a lack of support and access to the help they need. He hopes to bring a youth perspective to the task force. "The generational gap is a big issue," he said. "But if we can get a inner-generational crowd together and have the youth listen to the adults and the adults listen to the youth, I think we can make an effective change in our city."

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