Students seek city’s support to combat violence, vaping and drugs


A group of sixth-graders is ready to change the world, and they are starting in their school and community.

The Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center student council has come together to take a stand against serious issues they and their classmates are facing.

They have started a new group called SAVVAD, Students Against Violence, Vaping and Drugs. On Monday night, they attended the Seymour City Council meeting to ask for the city’s support and involvement in their efforts.

After leading the meeting in the Pledge of Allegiance, class President Cohl Moore said youth have to step up and not be afraid to speak out and get involved if they want to be heard and make a difference.

“Our goal is to decrease teen dating violence, vaping and drug usage within our schools and our city,” Moore said addressing Mayor Matt Nicholson and the council.

Secretary Ashley Mendoza said SAVVAD has the potential to change lives not just of sixth-graders but also other students, their families and people in the community.

“If we can impact the students in our schools, we can help form the future of Seymour by changing hearts and minds,” Mendoza said.

The group plans to educate people about the dangers and negative outcomes of violence, vaping and drug use by creating public service announcement videos and posting them on social media outlets, including Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.

But they aren’t stopping there.

“We want to do live talks at city events and council meetings,” said co-Vice President Abby Mosley. “We will not only focus on teens, but we want to educate their parents, as well.”

Serving as a mentor to the group is School Resource Officer Keith Williams, who recently escorted Moore, Mosley, co-Vice President Yuleimy Ruiz Rosa and Treasurer Blythe Brummett along with four Seymour High School students to a youth rally at the Statehouse in Indianapolis.

Williams also works with the high school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions, or SADD, group.

“I’m very proud of the ownership they’ve taken with this project,” Williams said of the sixth-graders. “The biggest thing that we need to note with these kids is that they’re not intimidated by opposing opinions. Not much can stop them in making their voices heard.”

The sixth-graders got the idea to start SAVVAD from their involvement in the Youth Action Day rally last month.

“A few weeks ago, we were able to attend a rally at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, which taught us that we have a voice to make change,” Ruiz Rosa said.

After attending that rally, the students were featured in a front-page article in The Tribune. The headline was “Changing the World.”

“And that’s what we want to do,” Ruiz Rosa said.

But they can’t do it alone, and that’s what led them to the mayor and city council.

“What we need from you are opportunities for our two governing bodies to work together on changing the world, starting right here in Seymour,” Brummett said.

Nicholson said he is happy to see youth getting involved in a cause and in their community.

“Guys, I will look for opportunities for us to work together,” he said. “And thank you. I am excited to get involved when we can.”

During Monday’s meeting, Nicholson announced in his State of the City address he is planning to start a Mayor’s Youth Council this fall that will be made up of area high school students. He said he hopes to see some of the sixth grade student council members apply in a few years.

Williams said the students are planning to keep SAVVAD going after they leave the Sixth Grade Center.

“Administrators, parents and teachers are jumping onboard already to make sure that this happens and to help it grow,” he said. “Mayor Nicholson made it very apparent in his State of the City address that he wants our young people to be involved and heard, and as a Seymour schools employee and a special deputy for our county, I’m committed to make sure that this happens.”

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