A new initiative will soon be in several Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools to help curb youth violence. The school board recently approved allocating $1.4 million in federal pandemic relief money to start the program.

District leaders say the impact of the pandemic is bigger than what they could have imagined. From learning loss to mental health and social-emotional wellbeing, all of this has manifested into negative behaviors in schools. At a recent board of education meeting, teachers voiced their concerns about an uptick in violence and fighting among students.

The pilot program aims to keep violence and gang activity from spilling into schools.

The nonprofit Action4Equity will oversee the initiative, working with several community partners. Those groups will receive training and use their experiences to serve as mentors for students. They will also work with families outside of the school setting.

Philo-Hill Magnet Acadamy, Paisley IB School, Parkland High School, and Reynolds High School were chosen to start the program.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Tricia McManus says this is something different and she believes it will be a gamechanger for many students.

“A lot of mentors stop by a school, visit for 30 minutes and they leave," says McManus. "And the kids that see [them] are excited to see them and they leave. Not these mentors. They will be in the schools and the community full time.”  

Schools are working to identify at-risk students to participate in the 10-month program. These kids will meet with their mentors in January.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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