Senator Rachel May (D-Onondaga, Madison, Oneida) hosted the second annual State of the Youth rally via Facebook Live with Community Partnership V.O.I.C.E. (Violence Overcome by Involving Community Effort) and Healthcare Education Project Syracuse May 14, 2020.

This year’s rally was designed as a platform for students to discuss the challenges they are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak and to learn about resources that are available to them in the community. They were joined by respected members of the community. Besides May, the panel included Bishop Colette Matthews-Carter, actor and SCSD/SU grad Dexter McKinney, Dunbar Center Executive Director Karla Green, Reverend Kathy Hodge-Davis, motivational speaker George J. Lynch, motivational speaker Twan Gyder, Senator May’s Director of Community Outreach Nodesia Hernandez, SUNY Stony Brook student Michael White, Nottingham 10th-grader Martine Dosa, Syracuse Academy of Science 11th-grader Sarhia Rahim, Nottingham 11th-grader Asmita Bhattarai, and Syracuse Academy of Science senior Niara Mcintrye. 

There were 57 students registered on the Zoom call and an additional 1,300-plus views on the Facebook Live feed. The student panelists discussed some of the challenges and disappointments they are facing with school and family life, as well as some of the positives they are trying to take away from the experience. 

 “This is a very difficult time for all of us, but especially for our students,” said May. “It was important for me, and the other community members, to hear from our young people about what they are experiencing so that we can try to find ways to help them overcome. It is important that we are teaching our young people empathy and compassion, while also teaching the importance of self-care.

“As community leaders, we should take the experiences these students face – technological divides, increased incidents of racism, the loss of important experiences – and work to help them process through them and feel supported. As a community, it is the responsibility of all of us to join together for the betterment of our young people.”

To see the full Youth Rally, visit

By martha

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