PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A violence prevention organization recognized several young people for their achievements, in hopes of tackling youth violence in Pittsburgh.
Reverend Eileen Smith is not giving up on her efforts to prevent youth violence in South Pittsburgh. As Executive Director of the South Pittsburgh Coalition for Peace, she looks forward to sponsoring the annual Dare to Dream for Youth session each year.
READ MORE: As CDC recommends COVID-19 boosters for all adults, vaccine hospitalizations are on the rise
“Our goal is to reduce violence among young people, to give them something to look forward to and to achieve,” said Rev. Smith.
Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith presented awards to several children and teens for doing positive things in their lives.
Outstanding Youth Recognition Awards were presented to youth from The Way Organization, Voices Against Violence, Lighthouse and Growing In God. A special youth sport award was also presented to the South Side Bears football team. Their team overcame a lot after witnessing a fatal shootout just outside their stadium in the South Side Slopes in July.
“It lets them know you can do better; it is an alternative to fighting in schools and youth violence in the streets. It lets them know that we honor you, we love you and we are here to help, ”Reverend Smith said.
READ MORE: State Police search for missing 89-year-old Charles Williams
Two college scholarships were awarded in memory of two teenage victims of gun violence. Elarrah Saunders, 18, had some big goals before she was shot and killed in Wilkinsburg almost a year ago.
“Beautiful, beautiful girl, she wanted to go to school to be EMT. I miss her a lot, ”said Ebony Saunders, mother of Elarrah Saunder. “It just lets me know that God is still in control because that was always what she wanted to do, help someone, be EMT. And now, even though she’s gone, it’s like she’s still giving.
Izeyah Clancy, 17, had his future taken away when he was gunned down in May in the Allentown neighborhood.
“He loved music, he loved his family, he was just my good kid,” said Earlene Clancy, mother of Izeyah Clancy. “I just want people to remember Izeyah as a smiling, happy, calm, just respectful child.”
In the ninth year of hosting the Dare to Dream event, Reverend Smith said more needs to be done to tackle violence and continue to help children achieve their dreams.
“We need to stop this violence among young people. It’s a pandemic of youth violence and it’s a national pandemic of violence, and we really need to end it. So everyone needs to get involved, parents, especially churches, organizations, schools, businesses, ”she said.
NO MORE NEWS: Neighbors seek answers after possible murder-suicide in Washington County
Reverend Smith hopes to expand the efforts of the South Pittsburgh Coalition for Peace and secure additional grants. The organization wants to increase awareness of the streets, which its peacemakers do every day in the city’s neighborhoods.