MANSFIELD--Councilman Don Bryant along with Angel Ross-Taylor, hosted a community-wide event on Saturday called, ‘Richland Stands United.’ This was a community town-hall with two panels, focused on the Issue on Drugs, Gun Violence and Youth Programming in Richland County. The director and organizer of this event was Mansfield native and Kent State University graduate, Trina Floyd.
16 County Representatives participated in the adult panel. These representatives include State Rep. Mark Romanchuk, Prosecutor Bambi Couch-Page, Mayors of Ontario, Shelby, Bellville, Lexington, and Mansfield; MPD Chief Ken Coontz and METRICH Commander Petrycki; Mansfield Law Director John Spon, Commissioner Gary Utt, Mansfield Sr. High School Principal, Dr. Jose Hernandez; Shelby Chief of Police, Richland Co. Mental Health and Recovery Services Director Joe Trolian, and representatives from the Ohio Highway Patrol and more.
Also present were special guests for the Richland Stands United youth panel: local organizer, Justin Philips; Ocie Hill Neighborhood Center Director, Lisa Hall; Pastor Russel Stanford, CACY Director, Lisa Funk; Mansfield Senior student, Isaiah Slone; Mansfield Sr. student, Brian ‘Toledo’ Benson; and St. Peters student, Tiara Ross. Mrs. Floyd also was a member of the youth panel.
Youth panelist spoke powerful truths, that according to Isaiah Slone, “adults and professionals in the community, should take more seriously.” Slone said when asked how gun violence affects young people in Mansfield, he said,
“It comes down to whether we want to move our lives forward and become successful, or do we just want to become another statistic, another young person taking risks for a life of crime that’s not likely going to lead anywhere.”
On the topic of bullying, youth panelist Brian Benson encouraged audience members, that if anyone sees an act of bullying, to try to stop it or report the behavior to an adult.
“People who are bullies, have issues going on inside. I don’t believe that bullies are better than anyone else. If I see one of my fellow peers getting bullied, I’m going to step in and try to stop it. If I feel that I can’t stop it, I’ll get someone who can. There’s no excuse for bullying, ever,” stated Benson.
Justin Philips, local organizer and a recovering addict, specifically to heroin; spoke to the issue on drugs and shared his personal story with the audience.
“You know, although I am responsible for my actions and choices that I made in the past, I would never wish addiction upon anyone. It’s something that you deal with day by day, year by year.”
When asked about steps toward solutions to the drug epidemic, Justin spoke to youth programing and reducing the effects of boredom when possible.
“When kids, young people are bored, is when things can really get out of hand. We need to coordinate more activities for our youth. Show them that we care and want to involve them in what’s going on around Richland county, especially during the summers when they’re out of school,” Philips stated.
During the main segment, Mansfield Sr. High School Principal, Jose Hernandez, spoke to taking immediate action to help students considered ‘at-risk,’ by connecting them with more services, including a weekly intervention course that Hernandez teaches on Wednesdays.
“I believe we need to make extra supports available to all of our students. But for our students who have fallen behind academically, socially or in-terms of behavior; we have created space during the school day, that allows us to bring-in outside supports, including mentoring agencies and groups that promote positive relationship building,” Hernandez said.
But focusing on the future of our youth is one thing, and dealing with what is happening now with gun violence and the drug epidemic are completely separate things. When asked how the drug epidemic could be stopped, the panel could not outline a specific plan. However, Richland County Prosecutor, Bambi Couch-Page, says it would be a huge impact if, “we could work on ways to concentrate our communication efforts on what’s out here.”
“We live in a county that is full of resources. We need to work to connect people to the services that are already available,” stated Couch-Page.
Councilman Don Bryant stated,
“Although the panel [including myself] could not outline a specific solution to the situations at hand; I believe they’ve taken meaningful steps forward toward creating solutions as leaders of Richland County. This panel has proven that they are willing to work together to coordinate and to strengthen services. By panelists showing up today, they are proving that they are also open to new ideas and more than willing to work with the public to develop solutions.”
“Regardless, as representatives of various levels of government in Richland County, from the state-level to the local and regional levels; we are all actively addressing the on-going issues of drugs, violence and youth issues,” Bryant stated.
Youth panelist, Tiera Ross said she appreciated the responses from the government representatives and wants to be part of the solution.
“Having a discussion on these issues is one step closer to reaching real solutions.”
For more information on Richland Stands United, contact Trina Floyd directly or join the Richland Stands United group on Facebook.
Councilman Bryant partners with Mansfield teachers, seeks to develop civic leadership scholarship for students
Mansfield student and a learner in one of Mansfield Senior High school's new leadership and college and career courses, Imani Holmes, was one of 41 high-school students in attendance at a suicide awareness and prevention event that was held on Thursday at the Ohio State University-Mansfield Campus.
Holmes, a senior this year, felt the event was beneficial to her and to her peers,
"Thanks to everyone who spoke today and to everyone who made it possible for us to go and get educated about such a touchy Subject," Holmes stated in a post on Facebook.
Holmes and selected members of her class, will participate in a variety of projects this semester geared toward exposing students to civic education and leadership experiences and opportunities and developing awareness on a number of important local community issues.
These new leadership classes were the idea of Mansfield Senior High School Principal, Dr. Jose Hernandez.
Hernandez, now in his second year of his principalship at Mansfield Senior, says this will be a "hands-on class."
"Students are going to find out what it means to be a leader," Hernandez stated.
Thursday's field trip to the Ohio State campus, was a partnership formed early this year between Councilman Bryant and Mansfield teacher, Robert Watson.
"It was kind of an informal link that started by sharing the event information with Mr. Watson. We were just talking and I told him [Watson], that I was planning to take a mature student with me to the awareness event. That's when he suggested that I could get a few students from his classes to go with me," Bryant stated.
The Councilman continued saying,
"Not only did we get a few students to join us; we actually ended up with over 40 students!"
Councilman Bryant is in process of solidifying the partnership between the Office of Council At-Large and Leadership classes at Mansfield Senior. This is all part of an initiative from the Councilman's 2017 agenda, to utilize his office as a catalyst for future leadership development.
"Equipping our youth with serious, potentially life-saving, real-world skills; is what needs to be done. I want to further support our teachers and try to enhance their resources, by helping match them with local and state-wide opportunities they can utilize to positively impact their educational programs," Bryant stated.
The Councilman says he intends to work with teachers and other local officials to help develop a career, college & civic leadership scholarship, specifically for Mansfield Senior students for the 2017 year. He hopes to award two 2017 graduates with the scholarship, one female and one male graduate.
"By 2018, I hope to make this a city-wide scholarship for which all Mansfield students can apply."
Schools in Mansfield include: Mansfield St. Peters, Mansfield Christian, Temple Christian and Mansfield Senior High.
On management of the scholarship, Bryant would like to see the City open and manage the account; but depending upon finance rules and regulations, he is open to allowing select school districts or a private foundation to manage the fund.
"Listen, I'm not rich, but I know what needs to be done to help push our young people forward. If I can't find the necessary community partners to help sponsor this scholarship, then I'll fund it myself. It's time to get real serious about helping people. The success of these younger generations, is our success moving forward as a community and as a city. We're all in this together," Bryant stated.
For more information on how to support development of the Mansfield Career, College & Civic Leadership Scholarship; contact Councilman Bryant via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 419-971-3662.
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