Tired of seeing friends killed by gun violence, a group of young men is speaking up and working to find ways to get others to put the guns down.
And now they’re sharing their concerns with city leaders.
“I deal with it every single day. Talking to these families, showing up on the scene at some of these shootings and even some of these murders. It’s heartbreaking,” said community leader Devine Carama.
Carama said it’s also what pushes him and the students with the Black Male Working Academy to find a solution to stopping the recent rise in gun violence.
“That’s what wakes me up everyday. How can I bridge that gap between the city government and the community in order to keep our kids safe? And not just safe and alive, but thriving.”
Carama said it starts here, by listening to the kids themselves. They talk of negative influences and fights over social media to a lack in community resources
“Whether it’s their parents or even their friends, a lot of stuff that goes in one ear may go out the other. But I think repetition is what has an impact on young people. Whether it’s music or social media or whether it’s positive people from the community trying to speak life into them.”
Dozens of high schoolers spent their Saturday afternoon trying to better the community, not just for themselves, but in hopes they won’t lose any more friends.
“They take the message of positivity, the message of putting the guns down, the message of increasing awareness politically to engage some of these systemic reasons leading to the violence, then they go back to their friend groups, then their friend groups become leaders and so forth. That’s how the word spreads.”
The students and community leaders met at First Baptist Church of Bracktown from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.