Tired of gang violence in their community and tired of not having somewhere to go to get away from it, a group of Stone Mountain youth are doing something about it.
About 30 members of Youth in Action walked down Memorial Drive from the Juvenile Justice Center to the Shakur Center at rush hour Friday, Oct. 10, to protest gang violence. The group of 11- to 17-year-olds is part of the Gems and Jewels mentoring program.
“We want to get teens off the streets and save the world one project at a time, said Mary Pat Hector, a seventh grader at Solid Foundation school and a leader of Youth in Action.
After the walk, the group went to the Truth Tabernacle of Praise for a sit-in, to help raise money for a recreation center. The youth took pledges from family members and members of the community for the sit-in, Hector said.
“The kids are telling us that there are no youth programs in the area,” said Cathy Wright, who runs the mentoring program. “The kids decided to step out on faith. They’re tired of gangs and tired of having nowhere to go.”
Wright and Hector said there are no recreation centers in a five-mile radius of Truth Tabernacle and that the last rec center in the area was built in 1989.
“There are no recreation centers and no Boys and Girls Clubs we can go to,” Hector said. “We want people to see that teens do want to be helped and they do want a place to go so they can stay off the streets and away from gangs.”
The group has done several other community service projects in the area since forming about three months ago. Hector said the group raised $1,300 for Covenant House, a shelter for homeless youth, and also raised money to help prevent child abuse.