Workshop teaches Philadelphia teens to protect themselves, while building trust with police

It is up to everyone to save our streets and so many people are trying, even those who don’t live in Philadelphia, like fraternity brothers and sorority sisters in town for a conference. They spent their day talking to high school students about tackling gun violence.

Sobering lessons for dozens of teens learning the best way to survive or keep a loved one alive, seconds after being shot, while first responders race to the scene.

The lessons are personal for many at Benjamin Franklin High School day camp, including 19-year-old Kingsley Prince. "I have a friend that died, when I was younger, so gun violence has touched me personally and, I hope it’s contained so it don’t affect no one else. And, this here today can help that."

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About 50 teens attended the camp, organized by members of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, who teamed with Philadelphia Police to give young people the skills they need to survive acts of gun violence, with the city recently surpassing 300 homicides this year.

"Me being younger, I would never have thought the world would come to this. Like, me having to learn how to save my little siblings, cause, you know, they’re younger and I would never think that they would involve younger people in the violence happening today," one teen remarked.

Organizers say they started planning the event around the time of the Uvalde, Texas school mass shooting in May.

"It made us really think somebody needs to do something to make sure that our children are able to, not only protect themselves, but, in the event they are failed by the system, that they’re still able to save each other," Phi Beta Sigma member Christopher Stith said.

All the participants will be sent home with a Stop the Bleed kit. "There’s surgical gloves, there are masks, there is a tourniquet," stated Stith.

They also learned key tips and strategies to de-escalate tensions before guns are ever pulled.

"We just got to teach our future generations not to be into the streets and not to pick up a gun. Yeah, I think we are going to have a better Philadelphia, if we do that. More things like this will definitely do that," Prince commented.

The workshops also focused on building a rapport between young people and police officers, part of the city’s ongoing efforts to build trust between law enforcement and communities of color.