CHAMPAIGN COUNTY (WCIA) — Tuesday’s armed bank robbery in Champaign is one of the most recent crimes involving teenagers, but it’s not uncommon.
A student was accused of bringing a gun to school and there were arrests after large fights at Centennial High School this month and Urbana High School last school year.
Community Coalition Leader Tracy Parsons said last week there is still more to do for youth development in Champaign-Urbana.
“Our kids are still struggling,” says Parsons. “We’ve got way too much community violence, but we’re in a good place as a community, and by all coming together we really can solve these tough socio-economic issues.”
The Executive Manager of East Central Illinois Youth for Christ Willie Comer is having conversations that have helped his group connect with hundreds of teens. Comer says the community needs to adopt a prevention instead of intervention policy.
“We’re all rallying around together every day to have these discussions how do we combat youth violence,” says Comer. “We’re reaching kids third grade, second grade, sixth grade, fifth grade. We’re able to turn and adjust those minds at early ages so by the time they become juniors and seniors in high school, 16 or 17, they’re already on a different path.”
That is exactly what two brothers from Champaign were doing in a Garden Hills second grade classroom. They have reached success in college football and their careers. Now, they want to be role models for kids.
“We love giving back to our community,” says Joe Mapson. “Right when Ms. Wyatt gave us a call, we jumped at the opportunity to come back. To come back to the community. Cause this is where we were raised. We were born and raised here.”
Comer says his organization has started a Friday Lunch Crew with Central and Centennial High Schoolers. They will get to discuss current events and how they can prevent more teens from following down the path of crime at their next meeting.