Community officials host an event in efforts to cease youth violence

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- “It’s Time to Talk” was the message Starkville NAACP officials wanted to get to the community after seeing numbers surge in youth violence.

Now, these leaders want peace and change. Kids and their families were dared to be different, and community leaders believe they have given today’s youth to spark a positive change.

The youth is the future, and for kids to lead others they must know a few things.

“Don’t do things that you know aren’t right just do the correct things and don’t be a follower be a leader and don’t do drugs,” said youth leader Mariah Malone.

Starkville NAACP hosted families Saturday to have an open discussion about issues in town. Law enforcement and a pastor talked with kids and their parents about focusing on positivity.

“They want to fit in or want to be a part of something, but just to encourage them that you don’t have to be a part of anything negative there is a lot of positive that you can be a part of,” said the event coordinator Stephanie Halbert.

Halbert said she had seen lots of things change between generations, but stuck to their slogan (Dare to Be Different).

“Meaning that you don’t fit in with the norm you can be that one person that stands alone you don’t have to go along with the majority especially if the majority is going in the wrong direction,” said Halbert.

Roughly 35 people attended which made speakers feel like everyone was engaged enough to share the message with their friends.

“Often we’re looking for the bigger masses to impact but if we have just one child that reaches out to one of their friends then the at to me is a victory we’ve won a battle in efforts of the things that’s transpiring now with our youth,” said speaker pastor Christopher Washington.

Washington, of, Gordo, Alabama said youth violence isn’t just big in Mississippi, and events like “It’s Time To Talk” can limit some of the tragedies.

“One thing that’s the same is the violence within our young people it’s across the board so I think the impact is needed for us as leaders to come forward not after something happens but being proactive before it happens,” said Washington.

Halbert and the NAACP plan to host more events in the future and encourage more families to take part in them as it could serve as a way of keeping the youth out of trouble.



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