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When Republicans arrive in West Philadelphia for next week's convention, they can be expect to be greeted by a few political counterparts.

Much younger counterparts.

Several hundred young people between the ages of 14-25, mostly students, will converge on the Drexel Campus next week to hold a convention of their own while the GOP unites in the First Union Center.

"Basically what they're doing is accumulating what the major concerns of young America are," said Xander Paumgarten, a spokesman for Youth in Action, who is coordinating the four day convention. Programming begins on Sunday.

Jennifer Wilkie, also with Youth in Action, said the young convention delegates will assemble the issues that matter the most to them, and plan on offering solutions to these problems to the various presidential candidates.

But as of yet, the major presidential players have yet to confirm that they will meet with the delegates.

"Ralph Nader has confirmed that he will be there," Wilkie said. "[George W.] Bush has done everything he possibly can to get out of coming."

Youth in Action will also hold a convention parallel to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in mid-August, and Wilkie noted that she thought Vice President Al Gore would stop by the California sessions.

At the convention, those in attendance will break into groups to tackle the different issues that they see as most pertinent to young Americans.

Thus far, Wilkie said, polling done on the Internet and through Oregon State University has identified education, guns and violence, teen pregnancy and homelessness and poverty as top issues that matter to youth.

"What they're doing is trying to change the general feeling that young people are apathetic," Paumgarten said.

Wilkie said that members of Youth in Action have been talking with the organizers of the Shadow Convention, which will be held at the Annenberg Center, about possible collaborations between the two groups.

"They're open to helping us out," she said. "They've offered any support and we're willing to work with them."

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