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Jr NAA Members Attends UConn’s Spring PeaceJam, Look Toward Leadership Summit

After attending the University of Connecticut’s Spring PeaceJam event, held March 15-16, Junior Newtown Action Alliance (Jr NAA) founder and Newtown High School senior Sarah Clements said her group’s members thought this year’s PeaceJam was better than last year’s.

This year, the Newtown Foundation invited urban youth to attend with young people from Sandy Hook and Newtown. The Newtown Foundation also offered scholarships to teens wishing to attend.

PeaceJam is intended as a place for young people to learn how to transform fears and frustrations into positive actions, according to a release.

“PeaceJam implements project assignments called Global Calls to Action which are basically the big project your group decides to take on that year, and they have to fit into a broad category, from True Human Security to Environmental Protection, etc. Our project is the statewide youth summit we are putting on in late May (May 24th) that will address youth leadership in gun violence prevention through workshops, a panel discussion, a short film, and more,” Sarah wrote in an e-mail this week.

The May 24 #HonorWithAction Connecticut: A Youth Leadership Summit On Gun Violence Prevention event will be a one-day youth leadership summit on gun violence prevention. The event will be held at Newtown High School for students middle school through college age.

Programs will be presented in the high school’s cafeteria and Lecture Hall from 9 am until 6 pm. The full-day event is intended to bring youth from across Connecticut together to investigate the many issues that contribute to gun violence in America through workshops on mental health, urban violence, writing for publication, healing through the arts, and more, according to a release.

The Jr NAA is a chapter of Newtown Action Alliance, a grassroots organization, established in the wake of 12/14, working to bring about legislative and cultural changes that will reduce gun violence because gun violence is a public health crisis.

Sarah also said attending UConn’s Spring PeaceJam event made her look forward to the upcoming youth leadership summit.

“We had amazing feedback and response from the other 300-plus attendees about our summit when we presented it to the conference as a whole,” Sarah said. “One of our members and I also taught a workshop about grassroots youth lobbying, and we used gun reform as the sample issue to teach our participants. There is a huge interest in the issue among young people everywhere because this issue affects us most. If trends continue as they are, gun deaths will surpass car accident deaths for my generation in 2015. That is unacceptable, and young people are ready to learn more and to lead on this issue in their communities. That’s why we are holding this summit in May, and we hope lots of participants from PeaceJam and other students around the state will take part!”

According to Sarah, 11 students from the Jr NAA attended UConn’s Spring PeaceJam and one member of the Jr NAA from Stratford also attended.

“This year, our Nobel Peace Laureate was former president of Costa Rico Oscar Arias,” Sarah said about PeaceJam at UConn. “Meeting him, hearing him speak about peace and activism, and presenting our project to him was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. He understood what we were going through in terms of healing from a terrible tragedy and transforming that pain into positive action and change. And multiple times, he congratulated Jr NAA on our progress and for standing up and using our voices for this cause.”

Registration for the May 24 #HonorWithAction Connecticut: A Youth Leadership Summit On Gun Violence Prevention at NHS is $30; late registration fees apply will after May 2. Financial scholarships are available from The Newtown Foundation.

Event and registration details are available on the Facebook Event page created by Jr Newtown Action Alliance.

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