Creating A New Vision of Winston-Salem
Some Winston-Salem residents are taking back their youth from crime and violence.
The group is called Our Vision. The members say they will offer personal, academic and professional support to Winston-Salem's youth so they won't resort to violence when faced with difficult situations.
13-year-old Ally Washington used to attend Southeast Middle School. She says she, like other students, got into a lot of fights because of misunderstandings. "Last year, some girl thought I was talking about her even though I wasn't. She wouldn't give me time to explain, so we ended up fighting," Ally explained. "Then her friend got into it and I had to fight her too. It was a mess." She says because of that and other incidents, she transferred to Walkertown Middle School for the 2013-2014 school year. Washington also says she likes it better and has not gotten into any fights.
Situations like this and others including the recent shooting at Carver High School is why some residents have formed Our Vision. On August 30,one student shot another with a .38 caliber handgun outside of the school during a fire drill. Moments after the shooting, school resource officer Tim Wilson took the suspect, Christopher Lamont Richardson, into custody without incident. Richardson, 18, has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a firearm on school property, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injur,y and discharging a firearm within city limits. According to Winston-Salem police, Richardson and the victim, 15-year-old Antwain Deshaun Porter, had a long-running disagreement.
Candace Bishop is one of the organizers. "We're trying to give them resources so they can react to these pressures in a more positive manner." On Saturday, Our Vision hosted its first community day at Rupert Bell Park on Mount Zion Place. Several non-profits gave out information about their teen programs and there were motivational speakers. Families enjoyed free food, face painting and entertainment. The group also collected names of youth who attended in order to match them with mentors. Co-Founder Robert Leach also wants the city to create more activity venues for Winston-Salem's teens. "Something provided on a weekly or weekend basis and add some kind of training to it so as to reduce violence among our youth," says Leach.
Meanwhile, Washington wants her peers to "learn to keep things to yourself and not talk about anyone because people will jump you." Our Vision plans to host a community event once a quarter. The next one will be a talent show later this year.