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Coming up today: virtual gathering on reducing youth violence in Greater East St. Louis

Working Together for Youth virtual gathering at 4 p.m.

Hear from youth and adults about efforts to reduce youth violence in Greater East St. Louis

East Side Aligned, a collaborative working to improve the readiness and well-being of children and youth within Greater East St. Louis, is hosting its 2020 Working Together for Youth Virtual Gathering on Thursday, Nov. 12, from 4 to 6 p.m. on its Facebook Page:

The gathering will focus on how the community is working together to create the conditions for young people to feel and be safe. It will include the official release of a Progress Report and a series of Videos highlighting the impact being made through implementing the FIRST STOP Plan to Reduce Youth Violence and Victimization.

“Violence is a complex social problem, and solutions will not come quickly. The purpose of this Progress Report is to begin telling the FIRST STOP story” noted Mark Kern, St. Clair County Board chairman and a featured speaker at the gathering. “It offers a view into the strategies, uplifts the inspiring stories of people creating change, and presents some of the results we have achieved so far.”

Development of the FIRST STOP plan was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The grant also helped fund efforts to Build a Trauma-informed Community, Foster Positive Youth Development, Cultivate Youth Power, and Interrupt and Deter Violence.

The name “FIRST STOP” has a dual meaning. Back in 2016, community members identified Sub-Goal #3—“All children and youth feel and are safe”—as the number one priority of the East Side Aligned Roadmap. As such, strategies to reduce youth violence is the FIRST STOP of the Roadmap. The name is also a call for change—specifically for how people understand and look at youth violence and trauma. Youth are not the root cause. FIRST STOP calls on us to address the systemic racism and oppression that constructed and perpetuate the conditions that cause violence. Together, ESA stakeholders are working to transform these conditions and build a safe and thriving community for our young people.

“As a movement, we believe in residents, especially young people, being integral leaders and decision-makers in their own lives and community,” stated NZinga Medley, co-chair of ESA’s Stewardship Group. “We believe we can achieve more when we come together, pool our resources, and support one another. And we believe that efforts like FIRST STOP work best with transparency and accountability.”

In addition to Chairman Kern, a host of community advocates will join the virtual conversation, including Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton; Judge Zina Cruse of the 20th Judicial Circuit; Dr. Tiffany Gholson, East St. Louis School District 189; Wyvetta Granger, Community Life Line; and several youth and young adults.

About East Side Aligned

East Side Aligned mobilizes our collective power to build a stronger community for and with young people. It brings youth and adults together to drive systems transformation and create the conditions for children and youth to thrive. Learn more at

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