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Lee High School students in the school’s EVAC program sat down with Brazilian officials in a classroom In May to talk community policing.
They tell Action News Jax the talks went so well the students were invited to share their stories in Brazil in the fall.
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The Brazilian leaders were invited to the United States under the Department of State’s International Visitor Program.
Among the objectives laid out for their visit to the United States was giving foreign leaders an inside look at our government and discussing ways to improve relations between youth and police in their communities.
The officials also visited the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and JSO in their time in Jacksonville, and spent time in Washington, D.C.
“They came all the way from Brazil just to talk to us,” said student Otis Mable in a video recorded at the meeting. “Like, they could’ve been anywhere in the world but they’re here today and I have to really thank them for it.”
Among the Brazilians in attendance were the Director of Intelligence, and the Federal Chief of Police.
They were here to speak to EVAC Movement Students about building positive relationships between police and kids in their communities.
Vincent Waugh is one of the EVAC students who helped with planning.
“We're not taking a blind eye to the problems that face us,” he said. “ … We’re looking to make actual change that's the difference for this generation…”
Evac co-founder Amy Donofrio tells Action News Jax the leaders were engaged from the start.
“They weren’t here to guest speak to the youth, they were here to listen, take notes, and learn,” Donofrio said.
Jason Wells of Global Jax, a local organization dedicated to bringing world leaders to our area, made the request to the State Department for the leaders to visit Lee High School.
He attended the meeting between students and officials.
“It was a very honest, a very real conversation. You know the kids don’t hold back. They say it exactly how they see it.”
Donofrio called the experience of watching world leaders listen to her students’ ideas inspiring.
She said EVAC’s mission is finding new ways to improve relations between youth and police.
“Our city’s kids are brilliant,” Donofrio said. “They have the capability to do that internationally and right here at home, and we should let them!”
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