Spartanburg teens ‘RiZe up’ on immigration, mental health

By Samatha Swann

Dozens of teenagers gathered in the downtown Spartanburg Community College auditorium Thursday morning. While it may have looked like a school assembly, the adults in the room weren’t the ones who called them there — the teens on stage did.

“We believe it is important for Generation Z to leverage the youth voice in creating the change we need in Spartanburg County and improve our quality of life,” Nic Luedeman, a teen mental health activist, said to the assembled group. “This is our mission: to empower teens to empower others to rise up and educate the community about social issues and push for positive change.”

This event, a youth summit named RiZe, was hosted by Connect Spartanburg, a large-scale, youth-owned and operated adolescent health initiative under the Mary Black Foundation. Polly Padgett, adolescent health project director at the foundation, said that the idea for the event came from one of the organization’s “listening sessions,” meetings where the adults at Connect hear the teens’ concerns, issues and ideas for what needs to happen next.

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As S.C. Prepares to Raise the Age of Incarceration, Proponents Say it Could Help DJJ Reform


Nov 4, 2017

The idea was simple enough: Lower the number of youth who end up in South Carolina’s prisons by raising the age that teenagers can be tried as adults from 17 to 18.

It was a win-win for lawmakers and advocates alike — decrease the number of teenage inmates detained alongside adult offenders while offering youths a chance at rehabilitation in a more forgiving environment.

Praised by lawmakers from both parties, the bill passed with ease through the Statehouse and was signed into law by then-Gov. Nikki Haley in June 2016. It’s slated to go into effect in 2019. South Carolina was the 43rd state to pass such a law.

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