Keeping Our Communities Safe: How Gun Violence Prevention Programs are Building Leaders

The impact of gun violence is felt far too frequently in the communities we serve. Many of the families and young people that we work with live with the constant threat of violence in their neighborhoods and carry the grief and trauma of losing loved ones. Too many young people feel the need to pick up a gun, continuing the cycle of violence.

At The Children’s Village (CV), we try to offer alternative paths forward for young people in our care. Providing a path for action and building our young people up as leaders helps build hope and safer communities.

One of those transformative programs is CV’s partnership with the District Attorney’s Office of New York, where groups of students meet biweekly to have important conversations about gun violence and work toward creative solutions.

Program Director Valerie Worthy said that “gathering young adults together and having a conversation can do so much. At first, they told me how much they appreciated the program just for the chance to be off the streets and safe for a couple nights a week. As we got to know each other their creativity blossomed.”

One of the groups came up with an inspiring final project where each participant created art that told a personal story denouncing gun violence. In October, they worked with Senator Cordell Cleare of Harlem to host a panel discussion about gun violence and present their artwork and takeaways from the program.

Senator Cleare said “Thank you to this great group of kids who courageously shared their experience regarding safety in their communities. These kids – just trying to be kids – face the harsh realities of gun violence and its pervasive impact on every aspect of their lives. We must listen to their experiences to better understand what solutions can look like.”

There is a long road ahead and many steps to make our communities safer. Yet meaningful dialogue and projects like this are making a difference by showing our young people that we are all listening and want to partner with them to make meaningful change.

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