LYNCHBURG, Virginia. – Several people came to the Jubilee Center in Hill City on Thursday evening to express their ideas on how to bring healing to the community.
There have already been seven homicides in Lynchburg this year, most of them involving young people.
âLynchburg having already seven murders at the start of the year, I had to do something,â said Sterling Wilder of Lynchburg City Council.
For Wilder, that something brought the community together. Although he never understood how necessary it was.
âPeople are suffering and want to share their feelings,â he says. “For example, the lady who talked about the fires in her garden and how she can’t even sleep at night without hearing gunshots.”
For many residents of Lynchburg, the rise in youth violence is personal.
âI feel for these kids. I was one of those kids, âsaid Inspiration Church pastor Destin Tanner. âMy brother was killed and I know so many people who were killed that I went to school with.
While Tanner says it’s great to have leaders come forward with ideas, we need to hear from the kids themselves.
âWhen I was going through what I was going through and dealing with all my problems, no one would listen to me,â he says. âNo one sat down and said, ‘What do you need? Why do you think like that? ‘ When we listen to these kids, I think they’re smarter than we think.
Something the kids ask for – more role models in the community to lead by example.
âGrow them up with good intentions not to do these things,â says Simieon Mcillan, 14.
âTry to get your kids involved in an activity like sports or a group,â says Jacob Jarvis, 16.
On July 29 alone, there will be another community forum where leaders hope to take these ideas and execute them.
âOur community has challenges and we will all work together to fill those gaps to fill those gaps,â Wilder said. âIt’s about seeing what we can do as a village to bring our village together. “
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