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First Youth City Council aims to stop violence

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The concept is starting young to stop the violence.

Thursday was the inauguration of the first ever Memphis Youth City Council that is made up of 13 members who advise the Memphis City Council and the Mayor.

The teens come from across Memphis, representing their council districts, they will serve as voices for youth in their area.

Addressing the crowd at the inauguration on Thursday, Mayor Jim Strickland said politicians campaign on youth issues all the time but they're not youth now they're hoping these young people can make a difference.

"Youth has a different view of Memphis and the world you know," said Kiara Amador.

A different view from teenager Kiara Amador is what the city hopes can offer solutions for change.

Amador is ready to take on the challenge. She represents District Four and will soon be a Junior at Wooddale High in southeast Memphis. For her the problems are clear.

"Violence. Violence is the one. Especially violence," she said.

In Memphis so far this year the numbers are staggering and saddening of 133 homicides so far, 15 victims were under the age of 18. Some of the suspects in violent crimes are minors too.

At Thursday's ceremony youth council members said it's not just violence they want to address but education and gaps they see in the system. The chairwoman telling the audience, not to underestimate the group because of their age.

"Inexperience offers a new mindset. One that allows perspective and a new mindset to shine through," said Megan Wassef.

It's those new mindsets Mayor Jim Strickland is looking forward to hearing.

"What to do at community centers. Not every community center wants the same thing and our libraries. What kind of programming do they want?" explained Strickland.

While the goal is to shine light on some of the negative issues affecting youth, Amador hopes it lets her shine a positive light on her peers and the rest of the community.

"There's so many good things that we need to have a voice about. Show that we have some amazing things about Wooddale and Memphis," she said.

Each youth council member was elected by the student body at their school. They’ll each serve one year and the next youth council will come from different schools.