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Boys Town Participates in the Inaugural Peace through Service Event

Boys Town participated in the Inaugural Peace through Service event in honor of National Youth Violence Prevention Week on Wednesday March 25, 2015 at the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Office of Civic & Social Responsibility (UNO’s OCSR).

Lead sponsor, Omaha 360 Students for Peace and the Black Police Officers Association, brought together students from the Omaha Metro Area to discuss sustainable solutions for peace.

UNO’s OCSR hosted the activities and incorporated UNO’s 7 days of service week where they encourage students to link with a variety of community groups to serve. The goal helped engage students in a discussion about violence in their communities and insight into their thoughts and ideas about what youth need to do to in order to feel safe and how the community can support them.

Torrey Leeper, Boys Town Family Home Program Consultant and Sarah Simms, Boys Town Director of Intervention and Assessment, were both huge contributors in sending youth to the community event. More than 70 youth and advisors attended including: More Than Just a Village Academy (Omaha North and Benson Students), Boys and Girls Club North Teen Group, Hope Center for Kids, in addition to a group of students from Boys Town Nebraska/Iowa’s Community 2 and the Intervention and Assessment Home.

Students arrived and were greeted with pizza and snacks. Discussions were held throughout the event to look at community violence and allow youth to share their thoughts and concerns. The group also helped with preparing hundreds of Easters Eggs for the 2nd Annual Easter Egg Hunt sponsored by the Black Police Officers Association. Cicely Truitt, Training Consultant for Youth Care Programs, Boys Town, led the violence discussion with Jamie Anders-Kemp, Director, Omaha 360, along with Vickie Young, President of the Omaha Chapter of the NAACP.

“The event was an eye opener for everyone,” said Truitt. “They were given a survey to see where youth were with their understanding of violence in the community. In comparison to the official crime statistics provided by the Omaha Police Department, the youth believed that the city was much more violent than what was proven. There was a disconnection between social media, bullying and violence. Many students did not see the harm in videotaping or sharing fights between students on social media. That moment showed critical insight to advisors that more education is needed regarding the effects social media has on bullying and perpetuating violence among adolescences.”

“This opportunity gave youth a collective way to voice and share their thoughts with adults,” said Truitt. “Engaging in positive activities with peers is a great opportunity for everyone, including Boys Town youth to be positive role models in the community.”

This marked both the inaugural event along with the opening year of the venue host UNO’s OCSR. “We are hoping to have the event again next year,” said Truitt. “It would be great to have even more youth from Boys Town attend. The local youth can learn about community groups that can and are willing to support them after they transition home.”

Many signed the Omaha 360 Students for Peace pledge and received a shirt to commemorate their participation in the Peace through Service event.