Lexington’s ‘It Takes a Village’ Summer Program Aims to Refocus Youth and Prevent Violence
LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) – The City of Lexington is working to prevent violence through a summer program that takes young people from their neighborhoods on unique experiences across the city.
The “It Takes a Village” summer youth program is the brainchild of Devine Carama, hip hop artist, community leader and director of One Lexington.
“When I got the new position of Director of One Lexington in the Mayor’s Office, I learned that a lot of the work they used to do was response work, which is great and necessary work. . But in my experience working in the community, you also need to have preventative measures. What are we doing to reach young people before they arrive at the time of a violent altercation or they are involved in things that lead to violent altercations, ”Carama said.
One Lexington was established in 2017 with the goal of coordinating all anti-violent crime activities within and outside municipal government, with public and private partners.
“It Takes a Village” takes place every Tuesday and Thursday during the summer. Participation is limited to 30 participants. Carama says that since they started they’ve hit their peak every day.
This week’s Tuesday session will focus on how artistic outlets can be a healing agent for personal trauma. The students visited Kingtucky Ent. recording studio in Lexington, where they made music and learned hip hop.
“I know how important hip hop was to me. It saved my life and gave me purpose,” Carama said. “I wouldn’t be the director of One Lexington if it weren’t for the platform that I built through music and hip hop. So to be able to share that knowledge with them, so that they can watch the biggest studio recording we’ve had in Lexington and learn how to record the backstage stuff – some of them being brave enough to get into a booth is an amazing thing. I think that’s going to give them a voice. to whatever they want to do in life, whether it’s hip hop or not. “
The students described the recording booth as a peaceful environment.
“I loved the feeling that I could do whatever I wanted. It was like a free space where I could just be myself,” said Yasslin Keene.
Carama encouraged them to talk about real experiences and not to trust lies. Tj Morton adopted this advice.
“It was good, relaxing,” Morton said. “I was talking about my championship game. We played basketball at Dunbar, and then I lost thirty, and I was MVP, and we got the championship ring.”
Leaders like Carama are working to end the violence in the city. Lexington is on the verge of breaking the record set a year ago for gun-related homicides, and local leaders like Carama are working on solutions.
Since January 2021, there have been 67 shootings in Lexington, according to police crime data. Twenty-nine of the shooting victims were 21 or younger.
“One thing I’ve learned from working with kids is this misconception that they don’t want to be led. They just want to be wild and do their own thing when in reality that’s it. the opposite. They like structure, they need structure. Really, it’s a lack of structure and a lot of cases that make us lose our youth, “Carama said.
He and his team are focused on building relationships through mentoring and meeting kids where they are.
“In the morning we can do a conflict resolution workshop. In the afternoon we can take them to Malibu Jacks. In the morning we can do some computer coding at the University of Kentucky. “Midday we can take them to the Sky Zone. So it’s a combination of mentoring, relationship building, mixed in with building some parts of their character. Since they might not be able to get along.” focus on that during the summer months and hopefully, getting them more engaged in what we’re doing, takes them away from the streets, away from situations that could lead to violent encounters, ”Carama explained.
He says they are also considering a school mentoring program as an extension of the summer program.
For more information, contact Devine Carama at (859) 280-8745 or [email protected]