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Summit planned in Las Vegas to energize young activists

Organizers on Monday announced plans to hold a first-of-its-kind summit in Las Vegas to energize youth to become activists and future leaders — especially on policies to curb gun violence.

The summit, sponsored by March for Our Lives Las Vegas, NextGen America, the Human Rights Campaign and others, will be held Sept. 29-30 on the Strip. The location will soon be announced, organizers said at a news conference.

The event is intended to teach skills to lobby lawmakers, organize digitally and engage with voters. The group also plans to host candidate forums for Nevada’s top 2018 races, including gubernatorial, U.S. Senate and congressional contests. The invites to the candidates have not yet been sent.

“Following the Women’s March and March for our Lives, we realized that there are so many young activists who don’t know how to get involved,” said Karl Catarata, 20, the associate director for political affairs for March for our Lives Las Vegas. “We’re being that bridge for education.”

Catarata said he was personally impacted by gun violence when he left the Strip 15 minutes before a gunman opened fire on Oct. 1 and killed 58 people.

His colleague, Denise Hooks, an adult adviser at March for Our Lives Las Vegas, has also been impacted. Two men broke into her Las Vegas apartment and pistol-whipped her roommate and dragged her down the stairs bleeding.

Drawing on personal experiences with gun violence and outrage from the shootings on the Strip and in Parkland, Florida, organizers said young people are fed up — and ready to make changes.

“Young people are not only the fastest-growing voter bloc in our country, but also the most progressive and diverse,” said Tyson Megown, Nevada youth director of NextGen America. “Most importantly, they’re ready to be the political force that brings action on gun violence.”

Contact Ramona Giwargis at rgiwargis@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4538. Follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.

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