Educating youth on the reality of guns, violence, and death

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, June 5, 2024

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This month, nonprofit Suff.Impact helped show the realities and dangers of gun violence to Suffolk youth.

Held at Crocker Funeral Home on Saturday, May 18, ‘The Call (Beyond Scared Straight)’ was a gun violence intervention and prevention program that worked to educate at-risk kids on how guns and gang violence can affect children, their friends and their families. The program included a panel discussion and a sermon from The Mount at Suffolk Senior Site Pastor Karl Wilkins along with a reenactment scene.

“The Bible says that no man, nobody, knows the day, nor the hour when God is going to call you home,” said Wilkins during his sermon. “Everybody in this room is going to die. Everybody, we just don’t know when.”

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The kids were also shown an open casket, a reality for many families affected by gun violence, with a mirror reflecting their faces when approaching the casket. Wilkins also addressed the reality of their families after the funeral.

“The bottom line is when the funeral is over, they got to go home and walk past your room, and how do you think that’s going to feel when they don’t see you there anymore? How do you think that’s going to make them feel when they see your birthday is coming around and you ain’t at the birthday party?” he said. “Just imagine the tears that’s on your mama’s eyes and on your brother’s eyes and your sister’s eyes. You’ve got to be mindful of the decisions that you make, because the decisions that you make, they affect somebody else.”

Following the sermon, Wilkins expressed what he hoped the kids would take from his words.

“I am hoping that they will really embrace this moment and reflect on it and come to the realization that we are living in a time where young people are being called on and that the Bible stands to be true that there will be a day in time where all of us will have to make that decision or face a homegoing service,” he said. “So really, I am hoping that they would just give it some thought and make better decisions and choices that will ultimately, not only change the community and their life.”

Suff.Impact President Trivelle Gambrell talked about the reenactment scene that started the program, leading to Crocker Funeral Home afterward.

“The reenactment scene was that we had two young men that were murdered. So we let them see how many times they were shot and things like that, and seeing the blood and things like that. Trying to put them in the mindset of ‘This is what’s going on out here.’ And it started with two young guys hanging out, and he was [following] the other guy.”

Likewise, Wilkins expressed his hopes of what the reader will take away from the program.

“I am hoping that anyone who is reading this, I am hoping that one, the reader, will be convicted to the point that they will come to the realization that it takes a village to raise a child,” he said. “And it’s easy to say that, but I think it’s more beneficial for the youth to see their village more than just hear that statement… I think when the child [sees] his village, I think that will help to alter the behavior and decisions as well. So I am hoping that the readers will say to themselves, ‘Man, I got to get involved. I got to do more than what I am doing.’ Our youth are crying out.”