Working for Peace
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Working for Peace in Central Ohio
The Dominican Sisters of Peace, the Franklin County Community Coalition and the Catholic Health Initiative are working together to address a pervasive problem of violence in Columbus-area trailer park community. Among the approximately 250 families in this community:
– 90% have experienced some form of violence;
– 70% have experienced gun violence or gang activity;
– 80% have experienced domestic violence and bullying, including youth-to-youth bullying as well as adult family-to-family bullying.
The coalition set lofty goals for reduction of each of these areas and has successfully met, exceeded or is on track to meet each goal – all within three years of working in and with the community.
Rising Youth, a youth group founded as part of this violence prevention effort and supported by the Catholic Health Initiative, began 3 years ago with a small group of 5 kids. Today, Rising Youth has grown to more than 30, reaching out to a number of communities in Columbus. As important as the number of kids helped by Rising Youth is the cultural makeup of this group. The Rising Youth program has created bridges between Latino and African American youth helping to decrease violence and create a more stable, peaceful community.
Rising Youth provides homework help and much, much more. Teens in Rising Youth can take advantage of programs on bullying, drug awareness, violence prevention, teen pregnancy and more. Sessions on building confidence, preparing for college, and learning to love and accept themselves round out a program that is designed to give these young adults the mental and emotional tools that they need to stay away from violence, drugs and other risk factors in their neighborhoods, and to truly “rise” as leaders in their communities. Rising Youth also holds an annual summer conference, which brings in about 50 teens.
Kids who are part of Rising Youth have left the street gangs that they once called “home.” They have quit the drug trade. Many have stopped abusing drugs and alcohol. Kids who came to Rising Youth with a GPA of 1.1 now have a GPA of 3.5. Rising Youth members are involved in school sports and other local youth and leadership programs, going from “at risk” to leaders in their community. Best of all, they are leading with peace.
Some of the actions that have been taken by the Dominican Sisters of Peace, the Catholic Health Initiative and Franklin County Community Coalition include:
- Focus on positive activities to build leadership skills
- Provide a safe physical environment
- Giving youth a safe environment and creating an after-school program
- Increase health and wellness
- Empower residents to become individual, family and community advocates.
If you would like to donate to Rising Youth, please click here.