Back to school bash encourages kids to stop the violence
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - While classes have started or are starting soon, one back to school bash aims to use this time to pack a deeper message.
“We don’t just want to have fun. We want to have peace, fun and education,” Lisa Chavers a member of the Fremont Youth Foundation.
Fremont Youth Foundation hosted the annual Stop the Violence Back to School Block Party Sunday.
The group was started after a deadly shooting years ago at South Bend’s Fremont Park on the city’s far Northwest side.
“Me and my friend were horsing around and the kid thought that something was going to happen, that a fight was going to break out and somebody was going to get to shooting. He was terrified,” Andre Davis, a founding member of the foundation, said.
Davis said he just wanted kids to come back to the park and not be scared. Years later, this park is now a safe, friendly environment that teens can go to.
“We know the kids need it,” Chavers said. “This is just reassuring them that they are in a safe place and there are still safe places in south bend because right now where we stand with all the shootings, I’m just heartbroken because it doesn’t seem safe anymore.”
According to the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System, the majority of offenders and victims in homicides in South Bend in 2017 were in the teen to young adult age range. That’s around 13 to 35.
When it comes to a solution, Chavers said trying more things like counseling and mentoring youth is the way to go.
“I want to make sure we start being a village for our youth and let them know they have the support,” she said.
Sania Wright is a Sophomore in Highschool and says she feels safer because of her support system in the community.
“We got a lot of family, a lot of loving people around us and just a lot of people looking out for us,” Wright said.
But she knows others aren’t in the same situation. Davis thinks those at-risk teens need more positive after school programs to keep busy.
“I feel like a lot of stuff happens because kids get bored. They don’t have a lot of stuff to choose from to do,” he said.
And open communication is another key.
“Just being in touch with them. If we are in touch with them, trust me we will know how to help them,” Chavers said.
This year the group said it has a little more revenue coming in and they used some of it to help recent gun violence victims and families make funeral arrangements, but they hope that comes to an end.
The foundation is also accepting all kinds of donations from money to school supplies. Click here for their page.