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Winston-Salem groups hosts roundtable to outline juvenile violence problems

Piedmont Triad News

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Thursday evening, Action4Equity will host a roundtable discussion that will allow grassroots organizations to speak about what they see on the ground in the fight against juvenile violent crimes.

The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Violence Prevention Community Roundtable begins at 6:30 and will run until 8:30 via Zoom.

  • Zoom Webinar | ID: 870 4725 9480 Password: SafeSchool
  • Click here to register in advance for this webinar.

The roundtable will include leaders and activists from groups such as Youth Collaborative, Our Kijiji, Pastors, Triad Restorative Justice, 10K Fearless, Lit City, and Beating Up Bad Habits.

Per Action4Equity:

“The recent tragedy at Mt. Tabor High School spotlighted the worst fears of the unchecked epidemic of youth violence in our community, which has experienced an increased frequency of more serious, violent and gang-related infractions.

“As we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and the compounding consequences of student learning loss, mental health impact, sustained trauma and isolation, and heightened anxiety, our students and educators have returned to school buildings without a robust network of supports to meet these challenges.

“At the same time, reverting to familiar, exclusionary responses (law enforcement, school suspension) is an approach we have long known does not work and comes at extraordinary cost to people and to the community.

“There is a critical need for programs which are proven to be effective in providing youth and young adults with the skills, tools, and resources necessary to prevent youth disengagement and gang involvement in the first place.”

2021 has brought with it a disturbing trend of violent crimes that have involved juveniles, that community youth center organizations say they need more funding to continue to help families. 

Grassroot Group David Villada founded New Life/Nueva Vida and created the mentoring boxing program known as Beating Up Bad Habits.

He mentors roughly 15 to 30 juveniles who are at the highest risk of falling into a life of crime. He also tried to help their families out, and even get juveniles plugged into work programs.  

Where he, and other groups, continue have begun to struggle is funding a lot of the programs they want to continue, such as playing for new gym locations. They also book recording studios and music-related apprenticeships to allow juveniles to find different outlets to succeed.  

Villada said the age-old saying is true, that it takes a village to make a difference. “We’ve called out the village. We’re saying it’s time for you to put your bucks, your efforts – where your mouth is.”  

New Life is centered around the notion that if you show high-risk juveniles a better path, provide them with a role model, or even show them hope that there is a way out of the “streets,” then they will take that path.  

“We have the workers, we have the product, we have the work,” Villada explained. “But we can’t do preventative work if we don’t have the resources.” 

Thursday night, Villada, along with groups leaders from LIT City, Our Kijiji, Triad Restorative Justice, Youth Collaborative, local pastors, and 10k Fearless, were scheduled to participate in a roundtable discussion hosted by Action4Equity.  

These Grassroots groups are on the ground and see, first-hand, what is working and what is not working with juveniles in the fight against violent crimes.  

These groups also worked together to help facilitate peace talks between gangs, which – they say – still stand today.  

Rev. Paul Ford said community stakeholders need to not be “undercutting of the estimation of this guy on the street who has been able to help others.”  

Thursday’s discussion acts to showcase other groups who may go unnoticed within the community but play a vital role in helping kids who get lost in the system.  

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