North Tech Students are Young Leaders for Civic Change
Four future justice professionals from North Tech’s Law Enforcement program and a sophomore from our Career Exploration program recently attended a Creative Reaction Lab event aimed at eliminating gun violence in St. Louis.
“Young Leaders for Civic Change: Eliminating Gun Violence” was held the weekend of September 20th and supported by St. Louis ReCAST and St. Louis Promise Zone at the Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being. Sophomore Camren Scaife, Juniors Julia Hurst and Savana Gooldy, and seniors Tiara Bealom and Dara Simmons each submitted applications and were accepted to participate in the movement which brought Black and Latinx high school students together to co-create interventions to stem gun-related violence. Accepted students were awarded a stipend of $150 for their work which began on Friday evening and extended through Sunday.
The event began with Antionette Carroll, President and CEO of the Creative Reaction Lab, who shared her story of losing a family member to gun violence. Attendees were then led through a brainstorming exercise in which they collected a list of things that should change by grouping them on large displays of sticky notes throughout their workspace. Small groups were then formed to focus on developing pilot projects which were refined throughout Saturday. Both Julia and Savana’s group adopted programs that put people together, using either a club or mentor/mentee program to connect those who have been affected by gun violence with support from another who has also experienced it. Julia felt “we just don’t have enough people who care and it’s messing with our society.” She felt strongly that individual support was needed.
Tiara and Dara’s groups both chose to include developing a podcast focused on providing an in-depth look at the people who are impacted by gun violence, believing that the broader reach of these more personal stories would foster change. Tiara’s group also wants their podcast to be marketed to social studies educators in concert with a website that could offer additional information and serve as an interactive space for questions and answers. She felt that traditional history found in these classes is important, but that gun violence is a critical civic issue that should also be regularly studied by youth now because it can help with prevention. Camren’s group chose to focus instead on removing weapons from our community though a buy-back program. Their non-profit organization proposal included a tiered plan that paid higher prices for assualt rifles. They also determined that a “no questions asked” policy for buy-backs would net higher returns. During the last day of the event, the groups came together to present their ideas and discuss how to take action on their proposals and streamline their efforts. The ideas our students contributed are now part of a collective of proposals from youth being cultivated by similar events across the country.
“It was good to be with people wanting to make a difference,” Savana said about the weekend. These students will certainly be among those making a difference in the future. Camren is considering his options but is looking at the Law Enforcement program for his junior year. And while Julia, Savana, Tiara, and Dara’s post-graduation plans range from joining the National Guard, the St. Louis County Police Department, or studying law, all are committed to bringing the female perspective to their justice aligned professions.
To learn more about North Tech’s Law Enforcement program, please visit the programs page on our website: https://northtechnical.org/programs/.
Photo Credit: Creative Reaction Lab, Facebook Page – Antionette Carroll addresses students during the event.