BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD)- Over thirty high school students from across the state joined their counterparts, the Louisiana Youth Advisory Council (LYAC) to talk education.

The L.E.A.D. in LYFE League is a teen leadership and advocacy program that provides a platform for students to use their voices against injustices that are of concern to them They advocate for racial equity and healing while developing their leadership skills.

“The funding, mental health, gun violence, and bullying, as well as zero-tolerance policies,  are all interconnected,” student Molly Dreznick said.

For the last nine weeks, the students have been a part of L.E.A.D.

Saturday, they were given the floor to fully voice their concerns with education. They proposed their solutions to LYAC and a distinguished panel of policymakers and leaders including Senator Regina Barrow, Senator Cleo Fields, EBR School Board Vice President Dawn Collins, President of Louisiana Association on Educators Dr. Tia Mills, and Rep. Larry Selders.

The topics included the lack of funding for schools, gun violence in schools, zero-tolerance policies, mental health, the lack of support services and bullying.

President of the Louisiana Center for Health Equity, Alma Stewart, said very seldom do students have a chance to fully express themselves to policymakers. 

“Policymakers have the ability to enact policy and enact programs that can address many of the issues that they brought up,” Stewart said. “We wanted to allow them the opportunity to really speak their own truth and lift their own voices so that we could hear straight from them, and directly from them what they are experiencing, and what kind of solutions they would like to propose.”

The goal of this collaboration was to allow L.E.A.D. teens to become familiar with the legislative process and advocate for conditions of concern to them in their community that they would like to change.

L.E.A.D. is an initiative of the Louisiana Center for Health Equity in partnership with the NAACP-Louisiana State Conference and the Foundation for Louisiana.

“This is an issue that I care about. I want to be able to see these policies in my schools, and also seeing them help my friends,” Dreznick said.

The future lawmakers said this is just the beginning for them.

“Politics right now I feel is not the best thing, So I feel like the youth needs to get more involved because we can cause more change,” student Kolyn Dummons said.