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The panel, which formed over the summer, hopes to create more welcoming communities in schools

PMG PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL - Willie Poinsette gives the opening speech at Respond to Racism's Juneteenth event at Millennium Plaza Park. Juneteenth commemorates the day slavery endedOlivia Reinhart, a sophomore at Lake Oswego High School, attended a protest organized by Respond to Racism at Millennium Plaza Park last summer after being invited by a friend.

"This was all very new to me. I wasn't aware that Respond to Racism was even a group," she said.

While at the protest, Reinhart gave an impromptu speech and Respond to Racism, a local organization aimed at providing residents the tools to combat racism, later reached out about co-chairing a youth committee.

The Youth Empowerment Committee, focused on youth activism, was formed last summer, at the height of the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, and currently is seeking new members.

Trina Gluckman, a Response to Racism member and the liaison to the YEC, said the group values having young people involved.

Gluckman said one of the initiatives to come out of the YEC so far was the formation of the mentorship program, which pairs high school students of color with younger students of color, giving them community and someone to look up to.

"We want to be informed from them instead of us telling them what to do," she said. "We really want them to inform us and help us make our city better."

According to Reinhart, this isn't the first time Respond to Racism has had a committee dedicated to youth involvement. Past groups have fizzled out when high school members graduated and moved out of town.

Reinhart said she's excited for the group to grow and partner with other groups along the way. She said the YEC is talking with the Black Student Unions at Lake Oswego and Lakeridge High Schools about partnerships.

Reinhart said the committee wants to help foster more accepting environments in schools.

She said although their progress is slow, they're proud of what they've accomplished so far.

Last summer, the committee put together a presentation on school resource officers, which included perspectives from local students. The presentation was used at a Lake Oswego School Board meeting on the same topic.

"As a group, we're all very dedicated to what we're working toward," she said.

The committee is seeking new members, especially students of color. The committee currently only has white members.

"We would absolutely love new members," she said.

To express interest in joining, contact the committee through a direct message on their instagram: @rtr_youth


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