TENSE Summit held to stop youth violence and encourage education

TENSE Summit held to try and stop youth violence and encourage education

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6 News was at the 2nd Annual TENSE Summit on Saturday at the University of Tennessee. 6 News was at the 2nd Annual TENSE Summit on Saturday at the University of Tennessee.
"Students who act out most aggressively are the students who have the least amount of words," said Anthony Donaldson. "Students who act out most aggressively are the students who have the least amount of words," said Anthony Donaldson.
"Always make sure that you're doing something positive in your life. Don't always be caught up in negative things. Make sure your education is correct," said Maurice Chunn. "Always make sure that you're doing something positive in your life. Don't always be caught up in negative things. Make sure your education is correct," said Maurice Chunn.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - 6 News has covered teen shooting deaths and now a group of young volunteers is trying to stop the teen violence and show young people they have other options than a life of crime.

6 News was at the 2nd Annual TENSE Summit on Saturday at the University of Tennessee.

Anthony Donaldson grew up in public housing in East Knoxville. He says too many of the kids he grew up with turned to a life of drugs and crime, but he stayed focused on school.

He is now working on his Ph.D. After talking to a former classmate, he wanted to help area youth.

"A friend of mine called me about wanting to do something to change and stop the violence that's happening in Knoxville, in the community," said Donaldson.

He developed a program called TENSE or Teaching to Eliminate Negative Stereotypes through Education. Last year was the first TENSE Summit.

The organizers are all under the age of 30 and many are his former classmates who have a similar background.

He says they are leading by example, with the goal to help young people in the community be successful and stop the violence.

"You can go off and be productive come back and give to your community but it took me longer than the guy they are looking up to everyday on the corner who may be providing them with the instant gratification or rims, cars and money and they decide to go that route but guess what they can end up dead or in jail," said Donaldson.

Around 170 young people are attending this year's TENSE Summit. The event is for people of all races and socio-economic backgrounds.

There are three age groups: ages 12 to 17, 18 to 24 and 25 and up.

14-year-old Maurice Chunn is participating in the Summit. He says he's learned how song lyrics can have an influence on a person's behavior and how he needs to avoid drugs and criminal activity.

"Always make sure that you're doing something positive in your life. Don't always be caught up in negative things. Make sure your education is correct," said Chunn.

All sessions are geared toward the specific age groups with the main focus on the importance of education which can reduce violence.

"Students who act out most aggressively are the students who have the least amount of words," said Donaldson.

The program also helps people learn how to take advantage of an opportunity and know success takes time.

"We teach them life is about who makes it not who makes it the fastest. Let's just get to the quick money with drugs and killings. They are fast forwarding to the end because there's no process so there's no progress because you haven't learned the right way," said Donaldson.

Donaldson says people need to stop pointing fingers and start making a positive change.

"Come together and solve something verses just complaining and talking about each other because the opportunity is there we firmly believe that we are a no excuse program," said Donaldson.

Organizers say the TENSE Summit has been a success and they plan to hold the youth summit again next year. The TENSE Summit is funded by donations. The event is free for participants.

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