PHILADELPHIA - A local group that works with teens to reduce youth violence in West and Southwest Philadelphia is crowdfunding to raise money for a permanent space.
“What we’re about is giving young people opportunities. Young black people in particular," said Kendra Van de Water. She has a vision for young people in our city.
"Making sure that they’re invested in their community, making sure that they’re given the support they need and no matter the circumstance," she said. And she’s doing that through an organization she co-founded along with James Aye called Yeah Philly, which stands for Youth Empowerment for Advancement Hangout.
"We make sure that we create a peer bond. We go on trips, we provide jobs and we do all types of things holistically," said Van de Water who has a background in social justice work, advocating for people and violence prevention. At a time when our city is struggling to curb violence her program also teaches young people how to think before they act.
“People are desperate. They need money, there’s a lot of turf wars going on and a lot of street beef going on. We focus a lot on conflict resolution and peer mediation.” And she says it's paying off for her group.
"All of the young people who may have carried guns or who have been in trouble, when they receive that training and the intensive case management they no longer did any of those things," said Van de Water. The program operates out of different recreation centers. Most recently it held a two week series for teen girls on hygiene and a six week curriculum focusing on patrol officers and engaging with young people around controversial issues.
In a Gofundme page set up Yeah Philly is asking for help securing a building at 52nd and Walton Avenue as its own permanent space. The program continues to grow.
“What happens is we're rooted in the community, we have a central location and more people can come to us," said Van de Water.
Yeah Philly was started last year. It serves mostly teens in West and Southwest Philly.
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