Youth advocates hold summit focusing on solutions to prevent gun violence in West Philly

Student leaders and youth advocates held a March For Our Lives Youth Summit on Gun Violence in West Philadelphia on Saturday.

Several dozen teens between 14 and 19-years-old attended the program which included a panel of community speakers and hands-on breakout rooms.

March For Our Lives is a youth-led movement dedicated to promoting civic engagement, education and direct action by youth to eliminate the epidemic of gun violence. It was started following the Parkland school shooting massacre in 2018.


Movita Johnson Harrell is the founder of the CHARLES Foundation which is the Philadelphia Chapter of March For Our Lives. Charles is the name of her son who was killed by gun violence in 2011.

"CHARLES is an acronym for ‘Creating Healthy Alternatives, Results, and Less Emotional Suffering,’" said Johnson Harrell. "We need these young people empowered and engaged to be able to be the change that they want to see in their communities."

Joel Woodlyn, 16, said he was nearly killed by gunfire two years ago and said he now has a support system after connecting with the CHARLES Foundation

"I can smile now. They had a good impact," said Woodlyn. "I almost died from gun violence. I witnessed a lot of people getting shot. I witnessed a lot of things growing up in violence and I try to stay away from gun violence."

Breakout rooms included a Civic Engagement room teaching youth the importance of exercising their right to vote, The Power of Pain Room which seeks trauma recovery through art, The Apologues which tells the stories of slain victims through music, art and fashion and the National Soul Box Project.

We met Chad Johnson, 11, in the Soul Box Project breakout room where he told us his two uncles were killed by gun violence.

"My uncle his name was Charles Johnson and he died before I was born and my uncle his name was Dante Jackson he died on a trip to California," said Johnson. "I really miss him and I’ve decided to write both of their names down and write it on the box."

If you’d like to get involved can get more information about the CHARLES Foundation. here.