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Published: 4/18/2013

Bell encourages local teenagers to embrace good

Gangs, drugs, violence threaten, but mayor urges positive outlook

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Bell Bell
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What Toledo needs is an attitude adjustment, Mayor Mike Bell told a room full of the city’s youth Wednesday evening.

“You can help your city a lot by just being positive,” the mayor said during the second State of the Youth Address, held downtown at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library’s Main Library.

The mayor told the young people — more than 100 who attend schools throughout the city — that Toledoans are all too ready to accept the long-held belief that Toledo is anything but a great place to live.

“For Toledo to succeed, we need you to be the best you can be,” he told his audience.

The nearly hour-long meeting focused on challenges Toledo youths face, including gangs, violence, bullies, and a lack of jobs.

The mayor said when he was growing up on Stickney Avenue in North Toledo, he had to be home by the time street lights came on.

He was always envious of the neighborhood kids who didn’t have those rules or structure.

But then he’d see them outside of school — because they stopped attending — and ask what they did that day. Nothing.

Those are the same people, the mayor said, who are still not doing anything.

The mayor acknowledged that some of the youth in the audience face violence and gangs in their neighborhoods — that some of their friends might be in gangs.

“If that lifestyle outside of school was that good, why is he dead?” the mayor asked, speaking about young people who die untimely and often violent deaths.

Jordan Carter, 14, a student at Leverette Elementary School, agreed that gangs are the biggest obstacle facing Toledo youth.

He said the mayor gave good advice: to never give up on what you want to accomplish.

David Daniels, 15, who attends St. Francis de Sales High School, said that it’s hard to be positive because there is so much negativity.

Mayor Bell encouraged the youth to participate in upcoming local events:

● Youth Volunteer Day on April 27.

● A youth job fair on May 11.

● A youth entrepreneurial training planned for May 16.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.



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