National – Share The Opportunities for Peace (S.T.O.P.) Teen Violence Campaign

By - Dr. Imani Ma'at On Feb 08, 2013

National – Share The Opportunities for Peace (S.T.O.P.) Teen Violence Campaign

Have you ever had an idea that comes to you like a lightening bolt, will not let you sleep at night, totally dominates your waking thoughts and just will not go away (not that you want it to)?  Well it is probably something that you are supposed to be doing! On the last episode of my Healthy Haiku Blog Talk Radio Show my guest spoke a lot about the difference between "phenomenal" people and those who just go through life wondering what it might feel like to step into their power!  The difference is getting past the fear and taking action.  Terrence Managin spoke about wanting to work with the youth and he started his program in Atlanta with just two children that he took to a park to teach different exercises and the importance of nutrition and his program grew from there with youth and adult volunteers!  One of the themes that I live by is similar to a famous quote  "If we build it - they will come!"

In the wake of the over 500 teens shot dead in Chicago last year, almost as many in Detroit, the school shootings in Connecticut of elementary school children and teachers -  as well as similar killings in major cities around the country - I strongly believe that what is needed is a National State of Emergency response.  I personally know of youth that have been shot and killed and others that took their own lives.  As a Nation we have the power to stop the madness  - we just need to move to ACTION.

Don't get me wrong there are lots of groups and individuals already taking action and that is a good thing.  I am talking however about an organized National movement that is planned and implemented at the local level in cities around the country that includes major input from young people, parents, all sectors of the population, non-profits, the business community, celebrities, schools, health departments, universities and whoever else wants to get involved. The movement should include unique strategies designed at the local level to empower teens to make healthy choices in all areas of their lives.  It should also provide skills, education and jobs to teens to further empower them to "do the right thing" and step into their power. We will seek and attract funders and philanthropists who will embrace our vision of peaceful communities and teens empowered to make positive contributions to society.

Dr. Marianne Williamson's poem entitled Our Deepest Fear reminds us that our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate but that we are "powerful beyond measure!" Let's push past the fear of taking Action and do something to make a difference.  We have the power to impact so many lives but quite frankly if we save the life of one teen then our efforts are worth it!

In Atlanta - where by the way, in the past week a teen from one of the Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs) was shot by a student of a neighboring HBCU- we are assembling a group of concerned citizens and programs and starting the process to take appropriate ACTION. If we build it they will certainly come. What choice do we have? Are we to just ignore the senseless shootings and taking of life in our communities and across the country? One of the saddest stories that I read when digging deeper to see just how this is impacting Americans - and disproportionately African Americans - was about a woman in Chicago that was burying the fourth of her four children, three boys and one girl- ALL lost to gunfire.

I received a call late one evening two summers ago - that a young man who was like family to me - he called me Auntie  - was shot and killed.  Our families moved to Atlanta together 25 years ago from New York - one of the main reasons was to raise our children in a "better environment."

It is currently 2:00 am and I am up writing this Blog.  I know that this is something that I am supposed to be doing! For more information and if you want to get involved please visit our new Healthy Haiku website and leave a comment and your contact information. Thanks for having the guts and integrity to take Action with us!

"Empowering Youth.....Changing the World!"
Dr. Imani Ma'at

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