Youth Center Focuses on Gun Violence and Restoring Relationships

Click the play button to find out about gun violence among the youth in the Syracuse community and what the Mary Nelson Youth Center is doing to help. 

Audio Transcript – YOUNG.Assign 4. Gun Violence Script

By Isis Young SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) –  The Mary Nelson Youth Center is not only focused on its annual Book Bag Give Away in August, but a host of other programs this summer.

During the week, the center hosts kids from 9 a.m. to noon. Outreach worker, Maurice “Mo” Crawley particularly enjoys this program. “We have kids come in to eat. We take them out to the field to play. Me and the girls will play hopscotch and me and the boys will throw the football,” said Crawley.

Crawley specifically focuses on young men and gun violence in the center because recently, he has seen an increase in young boys joining gangs. “We have 10 to 17-year-old boys being recruited to join gangs. These boys are angry because they have lost loved one’s and in the inner city, there is no one who cares about them. So, they see gangs as family,” said Crawley.

Crawley stresses the importance of gang prevention through showing videos, group therapy sessions, or just having conversations.  He aims to give these young men a real taste of the “street life” in hopes that it steers them away from that lifestyle.

Perhaps the most impactful program at the Mary Nelson Youth Center right now is supervised visits on Saturday mornings between parents and their children. Most of these kids either live with their significant other or grandparents regularly, and do not see their parents often for whatever reason.

“Letting mothers see their kids is the most touching thing to see. Because we all make mistakes, but being able to provide an opportunity for a mother to get a second chance, it brings me joy,” said Crawley.

The Annual Mary Nelson Book Bag Give Away will take place August 18th. Donations are accepted up until the day of the event.

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An inspiring quote inside the Mary Nelson Youth Center. (c) 2018 Isis Young