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Alaska’s Youth Come Together to Promote Peace and Equality at 'Lead On!' Youth Summit October 4 – 6

More than 75 Alaska teens from Barrow to Prince of Wales will come together at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood Sunday through Tuesday to promote peace, equality and non-violence and to learn skills that will promote healthy relationships in Alaska.

"The youth, ages 13-18, were selected from diverse communities, backgrounds and cultures across the state for their interest in developing leadership skills and their desire to make a difference in their communities," said Peggy Brown, Executive Director for the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, the organizer of the summit.  "The summit is an exciting kick-off to October Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities throughout the state."

The 'Lead On! For Peace and Equality in Alaska' summit has been coordinated by ANDVSA Prevention Director Lori Grassgreen.
"The summit is really the result of the hard work of adults and youth across Alaska that are looking for ways to promote non-violence in relationships and equality in communities," Grassgreen said. "The Alaska Department of Health & Social Services and the more than 30 adult volunteers attending the summit are our partners in making this event possible," she said.

Highlights of the summit include presentations and performances by a range of prominent Alaskans in the fields of politics, the arts and youth development.  Senator Bill Wielechowski , Representatives Sharon Cissna and Bob Herron, and Anchorage Assembly Member Elvi Gray-Jackson will participate in a panel discussion called "Using Your Voice to Shape Policy." 

Noted Alaskan story-teller Gene Tagaban, California performance artists Oscar DeGruy and theater group "Destiny Arts" will use the arts to promote non-violence.

"The summit is organized around three main tracks that include: relationships and non-violence, culture and identity, and sharing your message," Grassgreen said. More than half of the summit workshops will be youth led, including training by the Alaska Teen Media Institute, the Mountainview Youth Photovoice Project and the Dillingham Leadership Asset Coalition. Teens will also have a chance to shape the message for a statewide media campaign aimed at promoting safe and healthy relationships.

"We hope that summit participants will take the skills and knowledge they gain at 'Lead On!' back to their home communities to carry out local projects that promote healthy relationships and non-violence," Grassgreen said. "It's going to be an exciting three days in Girdwood!"
Plans also call for the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault to provide mini-grants to youth and local groups interested in follow-up activities within their communities. Applications for the grants will be available at 'Lead On!' and on the Network's Web site, www.andvsa.org , following the summit.

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