COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A fatal shooting early Saturday was not the only violent incident that happened in Columbus this week.
On Thursday, three teens were involved in a shooting, plus there were other felonious assaults throughout the week.
Community leaders said every time they turn on the news and see another shooting, especially involving young people, it breaks their hearts and proves there is still a lot of work to be done.
“Without a vision, people perish or they walk aimlessly,” said City of Grace Church Pastor Michael Young, quoting a scripture he said applies to the city’s fight to end violence.
“So I think getting a hole of these young people and beginning to cast visions for them, helping them to understand what purpose is, helping them to understand that there are greater opportunities for them,” he said.
Community leaders say it is a small group of people who are causing all of the violence, but that community leaders have to continue to think of innovative ways to grab hold of these young people and push them toward a different path.
“So the positive thing is we know that there are programs in place and we know that there are people working day and night to try to intervene,” Young said.
Ralph Carter, founder of We Are Linden, said being hand on will be the key in 2023. A big part will be showing the children there is more than what you see on screens.
“We need more street mentors,” he said. “We need more individuals out here, boots on the ground, and just walking the streets. They are in schools and if they are not in schools, they are out there when they are leaving school just to encourage them.”
Young has seen a lot of positive changes this year despite that small group and said it will be a group effort between law enforcement, faith leaders, and community group leaders to turn it around.
Carter said the city needs more street mentors, people willing to be there for children in Columbus to encourage them and show them there is more to life than what currently surrounds them.
“I think us working with synergy, working together,” Young said. “The reality is it’s not a problem that’s just impacting one segment of the community, it’s impacting all four corners of Columbus.”
“I mean definitely hands-on, in-person, one-on-one is definitely the new key for 2023,” Carter said.
Despite the violence seen among the youth this week, Carter said he is seeing strides being made with the kids a little bit at a time.
“There are youth that are now speaking out,” he said. “They are letting you know they are hurting, they are traumatized, that they want to get involved. They want to make a positive change.”
For more on how to get involved with We Are Linden, visit the organization’s website by clicking here.