‘Lights On KC’: A pilot program aims to get young people off of the streets

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A group of clergymen and women launched a pilot program on Friday aimed at curbing the violence in Kansas City.

Cassandra Wainwright is the President of the Concerned Clergy Coalition of KC, a group of local pastors who address social issues in the city. The organization partnered with the Hickman Mills Alliance to host Lights On KC.

“Our young people feel like they don’t have anywhere to go, there are no places that are open year-round,” Wainwright said.

Wainwright said the purpose of Lights On KC is about offering a safe and nurturing place for young people to hangout. They’re particularly interested in changing the minds of young people and getting them off the streets.

“They don’t have to be shut up in the house. They don’t have to hang out in the streets. There’s somewhere they can go on Friday nights,” she said.

The violence prevention effort was hosted at KCPD South Patrol. Those who attended got to enjoy a hot meal, board games, basketball and learned of community resources that are available to them.

“We want young people to know there is a city of people that care about them, community leaders, organizations, law enforcement that care about them and want them to have someone where they can go and enjoy themselves,” Wainwright said.

Damyian White said he appreciated the event. The 25-year-old said he could see it growing over time if the love and sense of security he felt continued with future events.

“We only have a short amount of time to really make a difference within ourselves and the people who we come in contact with,” he said.

Wainwright believes if the community wants to solve the violence in Kansas City, it’s going to take everyone coming together to make it happen.

“It’s not just on city hall, one agency or organization that can solve the problem that we have but if we all partner together then we can do something like Lights On KC,” she said.

“I’m definitely coming back,” White said.

Organizers of Lights On KC got this idea from an educator in New Jersey who was tired seeing of his students killed. The program has proven successful there. Organizers are hoping for the same in KC.

Lights On KC will take place every fourth Friday of the month in different parts of the city.

To learn more about the initiative, click here.

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