COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – As the summer continues, so does the issue of young people being caught up in crime in the city of Columbus.
In addition to car thefts, some are accused of more violent crimes. So far this year there are 33 homicide suspects 21-years-old or younger, according to numbers from the Columbus Division of Police (CPD). As a 19-year-old who’s been in Columbus since his first year of high school, Javarus Leach knows the toll violence has taken.
“It affects us, we have days off of school, people mourning former students in class and things of that nature,” Leach said.
For the last few years, he’s been involved in Think Make Live Youth’s (TMLY) programming. The non-profit tries to get young people going on a good path.
“I really just want people that are my age or around my age to get into more things like this that are positive,” Leach said.
TMLY is about to start a new program. It’s called Guns D.O.W.N.
D.O.W.N. stands for doing outstanding with non-violence. Terry Green, Founder and Executive Director, said young people in Columbus are exposed to a lot of violence and trauma.
“If you have a safe space where young people can heal, grow, and get connected to new resources then you are doing gun violence prevention,” Green said.
He said the new ten week program will give young people a safe space to have difficult conversations. TMLY is working with Columbus Public Health (CPH) on the effort. It’s one of several anti-violence programs CPH is a part of.
“Making it a comfortable space where we can kind of let our guard down and just really support the young people in healing their trauma, understanding how trauma impacts their decisions and sometimes in negative ways but also just kind of getting to the other side of it and making better decisions and choices in the long run,” said Marian Stuckey, Public Health Administrator for Neighborhood Social Services at CPH.
The new program will give kids and young adults space to talk about what they go through, with people who can relate, and work on their futures, according to Green. Leach hopes people his age sign up.
“I would say to them just give it a chance and they will not regret it,” Leach said.
The program is for teens and adults ages 13 to 24. Signup information for the 10 week program, which starts next week, can be found here.