COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – The Columbus City School District is hosting a community meeting on efforts to reduce youth violence in the city, particularly gun violence.
The meeting started at 5:30 p.m. The school board is bringing parents and the community together to discuss ways to engage children in positive activities during the summer holidays.
We also spoke to people in the community about how they plan to keep children out of harm’s way.
Summer is right around the corner and the people of Columbus are sitting down and thinking about what they can do to keep the kids in the community out of trouble.
“We want to make sure our children are safe. that they are loved, that they are understood and more than anything, that they have something to do,” said Cequila Bigbee.
Cequila Bigbee is the regional coordinator for Reach One Teach One Ministries in Columbus. She says she is already reaching out to organizations to help children
“We want to partner with these different churches and the different organizations that will come out and think and set up mentorship programs and different activities and different things that kids can do to help build not just character but morale and righteousness in help them kind of paved the way for them,” Bigbee said.
Columbus Municipal School District Athletic Director John Davis is even working with the school district to reach out to elementary school children to join middle school students in athletic camps.
“We are extending this year even more, we are moving into July and we are offering a mini camp this year for certain sports, baseball, softball and volleyball, just to give them something to do so we can continue to be in their lives and help influence them in a positive way,” Davis said.
Davis even says that after years of working with children, he can see the impact it has on them and he wants it to continue.
“It helps them stay out of trouble because they also have a reason why they want to go to school and they have a reason to stay out of trouble and they have a reason to try to be successful and there are lessons they can learn through athletics that other fields can’t necessarily teach them,” Davis said.
Columbus COO, Jammie Garrett and other community members are working on a program called “Reclaim our Youth”
“We’ve all come together and we want to work out some of the issues that we’re facing, like how can we make things better for the summer and for the recovery of our youth to come,” Garrett said.
Garrett says it’s not just about giving kids something to do; it’s giving them the right things to do at the right time.
“We know that between 8 and 3 o’clock we need to tackle a stable schedule that is something fun and something that will keep the children in their minds on what is most important, so we are all trying to develop a curriculum for them and it will be for 13 to 17 year olds,” Garrett said.
Garrett says the team is already planning activities.
“We all want children, but we definitely want those who may have behavioral issues or just issues at home and we will teach them things from forensic gardening, we have a fire academy, a debate, chess . anything that will keep them busy and motivated all summer long,” Garrett said.
The Reclaiming Our Youth program will have a meeting on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and invite people from the community to join and they are also open to ideas for entertaining the children this summer.