“Gun violence, it’s just one of those things that can happen at any moment.”
A fatal shooting in the Concordia neighborhood earlier this month seemed to confirm that fear.
Neighborhood House teens, however, took a leadership role in stopping the spread of gun violence by hosting a gun violence prevention summit and community forum. Over 100 guests turned out. Speakers included witnesses and survivors of violence, District 3 police offers, WNOV-AM’s Homer Blow, and Mayor Tom Barrett. NH teens and staff performed skits and songs to convey situations that happen all too often, and created impromptu memorials for victims of gun violence.
“It will help make a picture in their minds so they can actually see what might go on at a scene of a shooting so they can connect in that way,” said summit hostess Maya McCullough, age 14.
“That rule of no snitching, we wanted to break that down and bring a more personal approach to gun violence in the City of Milwaukee to hope that young people like themselves would stand up and say something when they see or hear about gun violence issues,” said program coordinator James Austin. “These young people are really working together to bring a holistic approach to solving this problem.”
NH Teens will continue to advocate for change through focussed events, including an upcoming art exhibit about the effects of gun violence. Norma Balentine of Safe & Sound Neighborhoods, a co-sponsor of the event, wants to see NH Teens’ summit used as a model for other organizations in the city.
Photos of Mayor Barrett are courtesy of Oscar Tovar from the Mayor’s office. All other photos are courtesy of NH teen program alumni Mario Sinclair, unless otherwise noted. Mario is available for special projects and can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org