GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Grand Rapids community leaders will meet againWednesday as part of the "Stop It Community Initiative" to help end the recent surge of violence in the area.

This effort to address violence intensified after the city was shocked by 8 homicides that occurred between December 1st and the middle of January.

The "Stop It" campaign kicked off last week when about 900 concerned citizens and community leaders met to share ideas on ways to address this problem.

Most agree that we have to address the needs of young people especially those between the ages of 15 and 25.

Wednesday's session, titled "A Conversation With Youth & Youth Workers," will do just that. Organizers will lead the conversation on finding ways to create more resources for youth...
Resources like after school programs, jobs and many things they simply do not have enough of.

"The irony of this is in the last 10 years that this condition has grown epically out of control we have invested one billion dollars in a 2 and half mile radius downtown to continue to enhance us to become a world class city. You cannot invest a million dollars into brick and mortar and leave a segment of our community devoid of resources," said Jerry Bishop, pastor of LifeQuest Ministries.

Quentin Henry, one of the leaders for the discussion, says it is time for the community at large to stop talking about being active in children's lives and start doing something about it.

"I believe they (youth) understand that people love them butI don't think they value that. Just like they understand education is important. But do they value education? Do they value life? Do they value 'hey I'm living, I'm 16, I may make it to 18'? But they don't value what they live for everyday," he said

Community leaders feel once youth start to feel encouraged about their lives and those in it they will inevitably start making better decisions.

The public is encouraged to attend tonight's session, especially young people.

It will be held at 6:30 pm at Lifequest Ministries located at 1050 Fisk SE in Grand Rapids.