Simmons called for increased funding for programs aimed at combating violence amongst inner-city youth as a primary tool in the fight against the epidemic. “What we need from the national level down to the city and state levels is a focus on these matters,” Simmons declared.
Peace Week, a series of events designed to create a culture of peace throughout New York City for seven days, aims to combat the challenges facing young people in New York City, where Black children are killed regularly. LIFE Camp, Inc., has also developed a three-year violence prevention pilot program. Homicide is the leading cause of death among youth, one in ten teens report not going to school because of feeling unsafe at or on their way to school and many youth don’t expect to survive beyond the next five years. This point was driven home through the tearful words of Penny Wrencher, a New York City mother who lost her young son to gun violence. Noting that the progression of photos stops with a death, she stated, “I want to know who stopped my pictures.”
At the press conference, details of LIFE Camp’s I Love My LIFE Violence Intervention & Prevention (VIP) Program was disseminated. The VIP program is a three‐year pilot project targeting 13 to 25-year-old South Jamaica, Queens teens and young adults, families who have been touched by violence-related tragedies and service providers handling the aftermath of such incidents. The project is designed to fundamentally change how interpersonal violence is experienced, perceived and managed to assist in eradicating the reasons for youth gun violence.
LIFE Camp, Inc., was founded by Ford in 2002 to teach violence prevention in schools, following the tragic murders of two community children. The organization has since expanded its role to also generate empowerment opportunities for youth who are educationally, economically and socially disadvantaged.