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Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

New summer program helps youth stay off the streets and feel supported during grieving

By meerna Jul11,2024
New summer program helps youth stay off the streets and feel supported during grieving

The organization has launched a new summer program for youth that aims to teach them how to plan and live productive and violence-free lives.

Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children’s Trendy Trades program features five-week sessions covering topics including embroidery, interior painting, sign language, podcasting and construction.

“We’re not just teaching them entrepreneurial skills or craftsmanship skills. We’re teaching them nonviolent, safer ways of living in the community,” said Malissa Thomas St. Clair, founder of Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children.

St. Clair said her team used crime data to make sure the program was having the most impact and was working with young people.

“We wanted to make sure we reached out to those young people who were at risk of becoming victims or offenders,” she said.

About 100 young people are participating. ABC6/FOX28 visited the embroidery/entrepreneurship session led by the owner of Uneducated Genius.

“It was a good experience,” said Zoey Johnson, an incoming freshman in high school. “Everyone was so welcoming and nice to talk to and be with.”

The program is part of the Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children’s Under Triple Digits initiative. They are working to keep the number of homicides in Columbus under 100 this year.

One participant, Jarael Straughter, lost his younger brother and sister to gun violence in 2021. Demitrius Wall’neal, 9, and Londonn Wall’neal, 6, were shot and killed in a car. Jarael said they meant a lot to him.

“I always think about it,” he said.

We hope this program will help him escape from his grief.

“It helps me forget about that worry, and I really like that because I like dressing nicely,” he said.

Zoey said it was a chance to tell her own story the right way.

“There were a lot of things that were pushing me away, trying to make it harder, but I’m trying to calm down, move on, just keep trying,” she said. “If people find a program like this and know it exists, then of course it’s easier for them to get help and come and do something.”

The organization is gradually moving forward, one teenager at a time.

“It’s just safer for the community, for the kids, and for the city because we don’t want people dying here from violence,” said Corey Johnson, a second-grader at the school.

St. Clair said she hopes students will take what they learn and take it back to their schools to help other students.

The program is funded by the city of Columbus.

By meerna

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