NEW ORLEANS - High school students from all over the area got together Saturday at the 2nd Annual Crimestoppers Peace Congress. The goal was for them to talk about key issues happening in their community and come up with an action plan to help solve it.
"An issue for me is murder," said Kyron Summers. "Seeing as we're one of the top murder capitals in the nation, I believe murder should be addressed and dealt with accordingly."
"How people aren't respecting what people feel and who they see themselves as," said Megan Astugue.
"Definitely racial equality," said Mia Robinson.
Those are just some of the issues local youth says needs to improve all across our community.
"For me it's dating violence," said Bella Pellegrin. "Because I've had friends who've been in relationships and their partner has been really abusive."
Which is why they attended the second annual Crimestoppers Teen Peace Congress.
"It's about critical thinking and being a true voice and leader," said Crimestoppers President/CEO, Darlene Cusanza.
"I've been excited about this all week and I'm excited it's here," said Elizabeth Rizzuto.
The event lets students talk openly about these subjects, and work together to help find solutions.
"I think the biggest one is violence," said Trey Causey.
"I believe way too many crime events have been happening in New Orleans East," said his fellow classmate Aangelo Aubry.
Listening to students were officials from all over, including NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison and former US Attorney Kenneth Polite.
"I might make a little difference, but all of us combined together we'll make a big difference," said Brock Miles.
"We're the next leaders of this next generation and this community," said Rizzuto. "So we need to take a stand now."
A lot of students say they felt empowered by the event because they say it gave them a voice, one that was heard by many.
"Our emotions are real and I think that our opinions count," said Pellegrin.
"It's encouraging to listen to the students because they have ideas we don't think of as adults," said Cusanza. "These teenagers are our future leaders."
The forum brings positivity and encouragement.
"It brings us all together and shows we're one community and we're all on the same team," said Miles. "I'm really glad we're doing this and I think it'll be important and powerful."
However students hope the event's discussions turn into action because they say that will help shape the future they want to see.
More than 300 students, representing more than 45 local schools and youth organizations, came together for the event.