Area youth leadership Program visits jackson county courthouse
Sixty area high school students enrolled in the 20/20 Leadership Program visited the Jackson County Courthouse to learn about local government and community awareness. Representing the county were Jackson County Legislature Chairman Dan Tarwater, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp, Jackson County Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Harell, and Jackson County COMBAT.
DaRon McGee, Public Affairs Coordinator for COMBAT, and Laci Beavers, Communications Marketing Liaison for COMBAT, began the program by welcoming the students and their mentors and introducing the program speakers.
Chairman Tarwater discussed the role of local government and his duties as part of the Jackson County Legislature. Tarwater encouraged the young people to become aware and involved with their communities and political processes.
Sheriff Sharp broke down the jurisdictions of law enforcement in Jackson County and who to contact for help in their neighborhoods. Sharp also explained that citizens should not be afraid of law enforcement officers. His message was very clear that citizens and the police must work together.
Deputy Prosecutor Harell followed Sheriff Sharp and led the students through the prosecution processes. Harell shared the biggest challenge of his job is finding witnesses to testify against crimes in their communities. He crushed the stereotype of being a “snitch” or “tattletale”, telling the youth that there should be no fear in testifying in court against crimes.
The 20/20 Leadership Program began in 1993 with only 36 students. This year, the program has over 300 high school students participating in the program from Wyandotte County to Jackson and Johnson Counties.
The program focuses on four main platforms: education, personal growth, workforce development, and community. Four school districts from Jackson County are participating in this year’s program. They are Hickman Mills, Independence, Kansas City and Lee’s Summit. For more information about the 20/20 Leadership Program, please visit www.2020leadership.org.