As violence continues to grip Chicago, area teens are presenting their ideas on how to curb the seemingly endless violence to city leaders Saturday.
More than 500 teens submitted their proposals and brainstormed with Chicago officials, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Saturday afternoon at the Youth Solutions Congress.
"What you're doing is a great, great initiative," Emanuel said. "What you're doing I want you to continue for the rest of your lives. Stay involved."
The youths came up with solutions to issues surrounding Chicago such as jobs and education.
Dr. Richard Jones, senior vice president of community investment from United Way Chicago, reportedly addressed the teens and emphasized the importance of young advocates.
"Youth Solutions Congress improves youth opportunities by allowing young people to directly impact Chicago policies," one of the attendees tweeted.
The groups' goals for the day are to share their opinions on the biggest issues facing Chicago youth, discuss and debate solutions, choose top 15 solutions and commit to being advoates.
The event comes just one day after teen mother Janay McFarlane’s funeral and one week after President Barack Obama spoke to Chicagoans on the issue of violence.
McFarlane, 18, was shot
hours after her sister attended the President’s speech, which featured another slain area teen and gun violence victim Hadiya Pendleton.
McFarlane's younger sister, 14-year-old Destini Warren said the President's speech "really connected to what was going on."
The President's speech
called for "commonsense" reforms such as comprehensive background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
But he acknowledged that violent crime isn't just a gun issue. He said it's also a matter of building communities and shared and personal responsibility.
To strengthen families and communities, the president called for an expansion of early childhood education, the growth of programs similar to Chicago's "College to Careers" program, and tax breaks to business owners to hire and invest in rough neighborhoods.
A man is being held on $3 million bond in connection with McFarlane's murder.
Published at 9:55 AM CST on Feb 23, 2013 | Updated at 5:10 PM CST on Feb 23, 2013