Mayor kicks off National Youth Violence Prevention Week activities
Mayor Greg Fischer today joined the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhood’s (OSHN) Youth Implementation Team, representatives from Jefferson County Public Schools, Metro Council and other organizations serving the city’s youth to announce Louisville’s participation in National Youth Violence Prevention Week (NYVPW), an initiative designed to raise awareness about youth violence and highlight prevention strategies involving youth, parents, teachers, school personnel and community members.
“Public safety is something we – the public – have to work together to create. That’s the message we’re focusing on this week as we observe National Youth Violence Prevention Week here in Louisville to raise awareness about what we can do as a community to address this challenge,” said Mayor Fischer. “We owe it to all our kids to do all we can as a community to keep them, their families and our neighborhoods safe. Because witnessing a violent crime, worrying about a violent crime or being part of a violent crime should never be normal for any child.”
“Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in homicides and gun violence in our city, however, we are proud that our Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods is continuing to advocate for unity,” said Councilman Markus Winkler, D-17. “We hope this week will set the tone for the rest of the year and beyond, demonstrating that we can peacefully resolve issues and creatively engage students.”
From April 12 to April 16, a variety of virtual and in-person events will be held to boost public engagement in preventing youth violence. These include virtual art shows, spoken word and anti-violence campaigns sponsored by organizations throughout the community. Each day has its own theme designed to amplify violence as a community-wide issue and work with others to find solutions.
NYVPW is part of a national effort organized by Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), an initiative of Newtown, Connecticut-based group Sandy Hook Promise. Locally, youth violence prevention efforts are being organized by a partnership that includes Metro Government’s OSHN, Jefferson County Public Schools, YouthBuild, Cities United, Kentucky Youth Advocates, Metro United Way, Peace Education, Centerstone, the Muhammad Ali Center, Metro Council and other groups.
“It’s important that we take this time to learn from each other and unite to ensure there is compassion in our community and our schools,” said Dr. Marty Pollio, superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools. “We look forward to our continued collaboration with the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, which will not only help our students, but will continue to inspire change and transformation in our city.”
Created by the Mayor in 2015, the Youth Team is managed by the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods to elevate the voices of young people on matters that impact them and their hometown. During this 2020-2021 term, the 16 JCPS high school and college students have been meeting virtually, participating in activities that build advocacy and civic engagement skills.
“National Youth Violence Prevention Week is an opportunity to center the voices of Louisville youth in conversations around violence,” said Monique Williams, OSHN Director. “It’s a time where young people mobilize other young people to bring awareness to the issue, discuss how it impacts them and their peers, and engage in activities that promote safety and peace.”
According to the SAVE, each day eight children die from gun violence in the United States and another 32 are shot and injured. Firearms are the second-leading cause of death among U.S. children and adolescents, after car crashes.
The Mayor also highlighted the success of the Reimage program, a collaboration between OSHN and KentuckianaWorks that offers a second chance to youth and young adults age 16 -24 who have been involved in the justice system. More than 800 young people have enrolled in this program that helps to break the cycle of crime and violence by connecting young people to training, jobs, and education.
Reimage is actively recruiting young people for training that can set them on a career path in professional fields such as, manufacturing, construction, auto sales, and more. Those wanting to participate in the Reimage program can find more information here.
Throughout NYVPW, students can get involved in a variety of ways including:
- Signing a peace pledge to stand against violence and efforts to create a safer community;
- Registering for the One Love Louisville Ambassador Institute that will be held on April 24;
- Engaging in acts of kindness;
- Learning lessons centered around conflict resolution;
- Holding compliment days where students will say give praise and reassurance to peers;
- Learning about the three steps to violence prevention – look for warning signs, act immediately to prevent a violent incident, say something to a trusted adult.
Participants are encouraged to use the social media hashtags #LouYVPW and #NYVPW. Click here to learn more about OSHN’s National Youth Violence Prevention Week events.