Nonprofit Launches New Effort to Prevent Violence This Summer in Dallas

Urban Specialists is finding productive and healthy alternatives to keep youth busy and focused on the right path.

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As the temperatures get hotter, so does the crime.

Like many cities across the country, Dallas usually sees an uptick in violence around the summer months.

Urban Specialists, a Dallas nonprofit that works to eliminate violence in the urban culture, is launching its #SpringIntoAction Summer of Healing campaign.

The group hopes to curb the violence by starting with the youth.

“Together we’re going to work this out. We’re going to work hand-in-hand and support each other because our mission is, how do we stop violence?” said Urban Specialists CEO, Antong Lucky.

On Thursday, the organization brought together community leaders, social media influencers, radio personalities and Dallas Police officers to brainstorm ideas to deter the violence that tends to spike while youth are out of school for the summer.

Of the many ideas they came up with:

  • Wellness checks for youth and parents
  • Find more creative activities for kids outside of sports
  • After-hour opportunities at community centers when the sun goes down
  • Training for both cops and neighbors on how they can interact with each other
  • Free summer camps that promote nature and holistic education
  • Mental health resources and education
  • Events for both guardians and children to bond
  • Community clean-ups and block parties

The goal is to find alternatives to crime and to keep youth focused on the right path.

“We had a summer camp two years ago, where we took them to the African American museum,” said Ashley Townsend, a community officer for Dallas Police, who shared her concerns about seeing youth without guidance.

“They never go outside of Oak Cliff, they don’t go on vacation. Family can’t afford it. So they get trapped into the mindset of, ‘What’s right here? All I see is crime. All I see is violence. All I see is just hanging out in the street somewhere.’”

Lucky plans to implement these ideas this summer. He agreed with conversations between community members that many youths are not exposed to positive forces in their life.

“I think it’s LOL – a Lack of Love,” he said. “A lot of these kids come from communities where they don’t receive the love because mom is working or dad is probably not in the household. So nobody is nurturing this kid. And then they’re being infiltrated by social media because of the acts they see on social media."

He's part of the same group behind the "Dallas Violence Interrupters" – a partnership with the city of Dallas that launched a couple of years ago.

The partnership hires and trains “mentorventionalists” from targeted neighborhoods, some of them former gang members and ex-offenders. The plan is to send mentors into neighborhoods to intervene with local youth in hopes of decreasing violence.

Urban Specialists is still sending mentors out into the community to make a difference and steer teens down the right path.

“I just had a guy the other day tell me that a young person came to him and was ready to kill somebody,” said Lucky. “But he said, ‘Because I saw you and the work that you do, I wanted to come talk to you first.’ That guy was able to talk him out of what could’ve been a tragic situation.”

Lucky – himself a mentor – said they're still working several key neighborhoods across Dallas. They need even more mentors to get to work in the next few months.

“We’re trying to marshal up as many people who can offer to lend an ear or a shoulder to a child who doesn’t have that. That’s all they need,” he said.

There are a number of events already planned in the coming days as the summer break for students continues.

See the post below for details.

Urban Specialists is located at 1401 Botham Jean Boulevard in Dallas.

Click here to learn more about events and getting involved with Urban Specialists.

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