In light of recent shootings and a history of gun violence in Kansas City, many community organizations are trying to figure out what to do.
Community activist Ron Hunt is trying to gather support by approaching a few young people at a time. He is hoping to help troubled youth in the metro stay off the streets and instead focus on their future.
Hunt held a meeting inside the Southeast branch of the Kansas City Public Library on Saturday evening to talk to young people about their options.
When Hunt approached Xanthanus Pierro and his classmates, they didn't expect a life lesson.
"He walks up to us and he asks, 'what can we do to stop the violence in the streets?' And the first thing that comes to us is jobs," Pierro said.
Hunt believes a lack of jobs is among the factors that put young people in desperate situations.
"The unemployment rate is really high, especially in Kansas City. But those young people who are unemployable is what really bothers me," Hunt said.
Kansas City suffered from 106 homicides in 2013. The Associated Press reports that the vast majority involve guns or drug use, and children often see the problems firsthand.
"People might not have food to eat. People might not even have anywhere to go. They might be in a box somewhere, but they're still trying to come to school. So they need someone to show them that guidance," Pierro said.
"It is really sad to me, personally, to see young kids around my age and a little older committing crimes when it is really for nothing. That is why I thought what Ron was saying was so great," high school freshman Erika Hall said.
Hunt fears the recent accreditation of Kansas City Public Schools will give rise to more desperation and violence in the future. To him, the recent shootings in Missouri and Kansas are a call to action.
"Some of the crimes we have had during the daytime really disturbs me. There are a lot of opportunities and programs out there to help these young people back into school," Hunt said.
Hunt intends to reach out to young people who are in trouble or feel like they don't have options, and for now, a handful of children at the library is a start.
Hunt asks that children between 16 and 24, who might be in trouble with the law, contact him via email, email@example.com, and he says he can get them help. He can also be reached through his nonprofit organization Young, Gifted & Artistic.
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