Shelby County Students led a virtual discussion this month, covering issues of race, activism, and healing from trauma.

The tragic murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Abery, and Breonna Taylor have sparked young people around the world to unite for change and speak out against racial injustice. It’s important that we all hear what young people have to say and that we help them process the pain and trauma that these incidents can bring forward. That’s why the ACE Awareness Foundation partnered with Shelby County Schools this month to produce We Matter, a student-led virtual discussion focused on social justice, activism, and healing from trauma.

Moderated by Janay Kelley, a recent graduate of White Station High School in Memphis, this talented and passionate panel of Shelby County Schools students drove a nuanced conversation about their experiences in public school and where we should focus efforts in order to help students feel safe, supported, and valued. They addressed such topics as whether police presence in schools makes them feel protected and served or preyed upon and targeted; whether parents have had “The Talk” with them or their siblings and whether the conversation differed based on gender; and what steps Shelby County Schools can take to ensure that the school system doesn’t contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline.

The discussion was the first in what is expected to be a series of student-led conversations about school climate and youth engagement. To see a replay of the panel, visit the Shelby County Schools livestream link or the Voices of SCS Facebook page.