WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A group is working to raise awareness of the toll violence has taken on Wichita’s youth. The goal of the stand against violence rally on Sat. was to fight violence that is taking the life of teens.
Through encouraging words, song and prayer, youth from across Wichita took a stand against violence hoping that the church will a cornerstone for positive change.
“We need peace,” Camry Abbot, a rally attendee said. “This world is so corrupted and there’s so much strife and we to think about what God has done and God is love and we need love.”
Students said they are concerned about the violence they see in their own schools.
“Almost every day there’s a fight,” rally attendee Manny Tries said, “but I don’t see it. Sometimes it’s they people record it and that’s how I see it.”
This is the third rally to end violence in a month. Organizers took a moment to read the names and honor the lives of those were taken due to senseless violence. Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson challenges the community to go beyond rallies and action steps.
“You want to make it so uncomfortable for someone who wants to commit violence that they know the community is not going to stand for that and they’re going to say something they’re going to engage,” Wichita Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson said.
Johnson believes part of that engagement is also challenging adults to listen to young people without judgement and redirect positive behavior.
“If you see some kids in the street, they’re supposed to be in school say, ‘Hey, guys, what are you doing? How’s it going? Why aren’t you in school?’ Johnson said. “It may feel like you’re being nosy or pesky. It was that type of thing. I knew people were watching. I knew people were concerned.”
Community members are frustrated and point to liquor stores being open later than churches. They hope to challenge several churches across the city to open their doors to young people after hours to give them safe spaces when needed.