Youth given a voice

Molly Shore

A 45-minute video by Burbank teens dealing with problems they face

and the solutions they have devised is going through its final edit,

and will be aired on Charter Communications Channel 6 starting next


"One of our goals was to make sure that whatever we did would be

appealing to teens," video narrator Brynn Larsen, 16, said.

The video is the end result of a questionnaire distributed a year

and a half ago to Burbank students. When then-Mayor Bill Wiggins

wanted to learn about what issues perplex local youths, he had the

questionnaire distributed to students in grades 7 through 12 in all

public and private city schools. The students were asked about the

most pressing problems they face in Burbank. Many of the students'

responses were similar -- concerns about drugs and alcohol, domestic

as well as school violence, their relationship with police, and

issues dealing with sex and depression.

"We had a very high response, and a good mixture of public and

private schools," said Sommer Embree, the city's youth employment and

resources supervisor. "Peer pressure was an underlying stream in all

the issues we encountered."

The Mayor's Youth Task Force asked for answers to come from the

children, rather than having adults take the material and arrive at

solutions. When the questionnaire results were tallied, officials

decided to hold a youth summit allowing students to search for


Twenty-six students, all members of Burbank Youth For Youth,

coordinated the day's events at the Hilton Burbank Airport in

October. It was attended by 180 students. At the summit, students

voiced the need for a teen center as a place where they can go for

help, not only with their homework, but in dealing with violence in

the home, Embree said.

"Having teens on TV talking about these issues was one of the

specific solutions," Embree said.

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