Middle Main

A neighborhood just a little off center

Schools Empowering Young People to End Gun Violence with the Support of the City of P'ok

Here is an article from the Poughkeepsie Journal about a march that students, school district staff, elected officials, and the local Guardian Angel chapter took part in. It is a part of an initiative aimed at stopping gun violence. Actions like these are important to empower young people, and to show them and others in the city the change that they can have when acting collectively. I was pleasantly surprised to see that actions are being taken and not just talked about!

Hundreds of Students March Against Violence

Michael Valkys, May 29, 2010

Scores of City of Poughkeepsie students marched Friday down Main Street toward the Hudson River in a public call to end gun violence that has plagued the city in recent years.

"No more violence," they chanted in unison. "No more guns." Hundreds of young people and adults marched from the high school on Forbus Street to Waryas Park along the river, where an afternoon of events for students was planned.

Friday's march was part of an ongoing effort by city leaders to combat gun violence and give young people positive activities to take part in. "We're all here to support you," Mayor John Tkazyik told students at the high school, before the march began. He urged young people to take pride in the community "we call home. ... This is a place we love."

The number of people shot in the city increased from eight in 2007 to nearly two dozen during each of the past two years. Most of the shootings have involved young adults. City leaders have fought back with increased foot patrols, a Cash For Tips program to get illegal guns off the street and other measures — an effort that appears to be working.

Although official statistics from police were not immediately available Friday, Journal research shows at least six people have been shot in the city so far this year. That would put Poughkeepsie on pace to record a significant decline in shootings compared to 2008 and 2009.

Students had a half day Friday so they could take part in the rally. "We're marching against violence in Poughkeepsie," high school freshman Shantel Woolcock said as she waited for the march to begin.

"All the violence needs to stop," said freshman Ka'Tia Cutchin.
Students gathered in the bleachers of the high school athletic field just before noon to prepare for the march. Many carried hand-painted posters. "Stop The Violence," read one sign. "Peace," read another. With a police escort, marchers headed through city streets to the waterfront, where activities, games and a concert were planned.

At Waryas, schools Superintendent Laval Wilson told students they should work "to help us vanish violence from our Poughkeepsie area." School district staff, elected officials and the local Guardian Angels chapter took part in the march. Also on hand was actor Leon Robinson, who co-starred in "Waiting to Exhale" and a movie about Motown superstars The Temptations.

Friday's event was part of Project SWAG — Society at War Against Guns. It was co-sponsored by the city, the Poughkeepsie school district, the Mayor's Youth Council, DIVAS of Sister 2 Sister, Brother 2
Brother and AIVMGM Entertainment. Officials said the police department's Juvenile Division, the Police Benevolent Association, the National Black Child Development Institute Mid-Hudson, the Exempt Firemen's Association and Clear Channel Radio also supported Friday's event.

Project SWAG stemmed from a series of mayoral summits held last year to address increasing gun violence. The campaign encourages young people to be productive citizens, make responsible decisions and steer clear of illegal guns and violence by participating in positive activities.

Sister 2 Sister and Brother 2 Brother are groups designed to empower young people to pursue academic excellence and foster healthy relationships.

-- http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20100529/NEWS01/5290329/...

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