2013-04-17 / Front Page

At Youth Conference, Simotas Speaks Out Against Violence

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas was welcomed as a plenary speaker at Global Kids Inc.’s annual Youth Conference on April 12. Global Kids is a non-profit educational organization promoting global learning and development among urban youth. The theme of this year’s conference, held at Baruch College, was “Violence and Peacemaking.”

“One of the most important ways we can work to prevent and address violence is by talking about it openly and in a way that everyone can understand,” Simotas told several hundred students in attendance from schools across New York City. “How can we hope to foster prevention without first creating awareness?” As an outspoken advocate against violence, Simotas has recently re-introduced legislation calling for revised definitions of rape in order for the law to be more responsive to survivors.

Simotas was one of several invited speakers representing a wide array of public institutions and community-focused organizations. The event also featured student-led presentations and performances aimed at addressing critical issues impacting their generation. New York City Poet Laureate Ashley August delivered a powerful poem, remarking that “Peace is more than just the absence of violence.”

Global Kids Inc. was founded in 1989 and since then has grown into an organization serving more than 14,000 students and educators in New York City and beyond, receiving national recognition for exemplary practices in international education, digital media programming, experiential learning, and youth development.

Simotas concluded her remarks by urging the students to become peacemakers through open dialogue. “I applaud you for being leaders and community advocates at such a young age,” Simotas said. “Never be afraid to speak up and speak out.”

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