A NOTE FROM dr. Jones
Youth Enrichment Services’ (YES) spearheaded a robust, one-of-a-kind, best-in-class, youth-focused, youth-led Violence Prevention Symposium on July 12th, 13th, and 14th. The event was organized by agencies throughout Allegheny County, including Amachi Pittsburgh, the Boys and Girls Club of Western PA, Kingsley Association, Garfield Jubilee Association, Manchester Academic Charter School, Phase 4 Learning Center, Civic Champs, and Duquesne City School District, among many others. The youth in attendance represented nearly 30 zip codes across the region.
This beginning effort has been met with tremendous enthusiasm, energy, and excitement. Our friends from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency were with us hand in hand, sharing their expertise, building our confidence with their words and actions, and letting us know that the state is rooting for us. We know the gun violence epidemic in Allegheny County is ground zero. The largest number of youth being killed in this population are African American boys from Allegheny County.
Registration for the Symposium topped off over 400 and attendance featured a full house, with as many as 350 youth and a sizable number of adults, stakeholders, media, and volunteers. The event was featured on multiple news outlets and publication sites. Feedback to this point has been absolutely spectacular and there have been very few negative comments. From this feedback, we want to spotlight three areas.
Youth from different communities came together to work, play, and dance together. The Thursday evening Gateway Clipper ride was a highlight for many youth attendees and allowed them to join in a collective social experience with youth from across the county. The question is, why can this not be present all the time? This highlight must be recognized and applauded.
Over 30 agencies cooperated and collaborated to make this event a success. Agencies recruited youth, provided volunteers, and did the needful. This in it of itself marks a new day in Pittsburgh.
The responses we are receiving from external stakeholders signals there is something serious developing here. Media and objective observers have now become believers in our efforts.
We are so excited to acknowledge and embrace it and look forward to growing this partnership with this eclectic group of youth-serving agencies, the Pro Team, the youth who comprise the countywide teen council, and the funders who believe in what we do to the extent that they are willing to provide further financial support.
We made history with the largest three-day convening of youth-focused violence prevention efforts. The final report for the event is in the works with more to come. Watch this space.