After the recent senseless shootings plaguing our nation, finding a way to end the violence has been a hot topic. One group of Kansas City women are trying to make sure kids grow up in a world with less violence and are equipping them with the tools to promote peace.
The Bringing the Peace Youth Summit kicked off Saturday morning at the Palestine Missionary Baptist Church in a room filled with kids and their parents ready to make changes. The hope is teens will learn how to stay out of trouble or handle situations without violence.
As a school teacher, it's part of Marlene Vann's job to make sure kids get off on the right foot.
"We have so many situations in the U.S. with gun violence," she said. "(We are) informing our youth, they need to be more peace makers instead of peace breakers. (We are also) dealing with how to deal with conflict resolution and just being overall a better person in society."
Kansas City, MO, has the fourth highest murder rate in the country. That statistic has Vann and a group of other women very concerned. They're worried about the teens growing up amongst violence and want to keep them out of it.
"All of these things that are happening when teens are pulled over or the senseless shootings that are going on, having them know exactly what they need to do if they are ever in that type of situation," Vann said.
Kansas City area chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority used a portion of a $25,000 grant to promote peace and change. They held the Bringing the Peace Youth Summit for sixth through ninth graders.
"We want to give them the tools that they can use in a day-to-day, month-to-month, week-to-week basis going forward and be that one spark in their small group or community, their home where they can be a leader," Lenora Ivy with Alpha Kappa Alpha said.
At the summit, teens learned from leaders in various workshops. Leaders like Pauline Johnson addressed one of many growing problems among youth.
"Cyber-bullying and the whole cyber issues are a serious issue and crisis in our communities, regionally and nationally," Johnson said.
Leaders also tackled topics like resolving conflict and teaching peace amongst each other.
Some students who attended the event said they're ready to make a change.
"For me, being more peaceful to the other people that would help me influence other people to be peaceful themselves as well," participant Colin Barnes said.
The event was held Saturday, days after the birthday of a man who lived by the same motto - Martin Luther King Jr.
"(We're just) making sure they stay on the right side of the law," Vann said. "We want to make sure that today they leave being a better person, a more whole person."
The summit is the kickoff event of another project called 40 Days of Peace, which consists of people taking a pledge to do 40 good deeds in 40 days starting Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The hope is that the kids will extend the acts of peace beyond the 40 days.
The Bringing the Peace Youth Summit took place Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Palestine Missionary Baptist Church, located at 3619 E. 35th St. in Kansas City, MO.
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