Peoria to receive state funding for violence prevention programs
PEORIA (WEEK) - In early May, the state pledged more than $100 million would go toward violence prevention programs, and Peoria is one of the cities eligible to receive a chunk of the money.
Community leaders in health, politics, education, faith and law enforcement all met to discuss the funding Wednesday morning at the Peoria Public Library’s downtown branch.
“Where do we need to be stronger, and where are we really strong? With the proper funding and support, we can get to the place we want to be in,” Office of Firearm Violence Prevention assistant secretary Chris Patterson said.
Less than a week after a deadly shooting just blocks from Peoria High School, a few dozen local leaders offered their answers to Patterson’s question.
Many agreed the best way to find a solution to stopping the violence is by working - and communicating - together.
“My office will be engaged - I will be engaged - in planning whatever we need to do in order to make this place the happy place that it has been and will continue to be,” Patterson said.
Others added in order to steer Peoria’s kids away from violence, it starts with looking at their home life.
“Childcare, healthcare, mental healthcare - all of that has to start by building a relationship with the family. All of that has to be done by knowing what the family needs in the beginning,” Carver Center executive director Jacobie Proctor said.
Several speakers looked back on their own upbringing, pointing to the pressures of fitting in.
Peoria pastor Samuel Duren said the money should go back into local youth programs to teach kids what it really means to be cool.
“They can be engineers, they can be mechanics, they can be astronauts, pilots and lawyers. If they see those people and talk to those people, it can change their environment. That helped me out in that process,” Duren said.
While the process of grant approval can be a long one, Patterson says the discussions will continue - and the focus is clear.
“It’s working on - and targeting - our approach towards individuals that are in the high percentile range of violence, and/or trapped in the cycle of violence,” Patterson said.
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