Today was a refreshing day with The High School for Public Service during their 8th Annual Global Youth Service Day. #GYSD The day began with our Program Coordinator, Marlon Peterson, speaking at a school rally at the High School for Public Service about the importance of volunteers in the work that we do. From there Marlon, two teachers, and 25 ninth and tenth graders walked from Kingston Avenue and Winthrop to the YOasis. One of the students said during the walk, “I’ve never seen this part of the neighborhood.”

Once we reached the YOasis and the teens were given a brief introduction to S.O.S. and YO S.O.S., we grouped off and sent into the neighborhood to conduct “virtual shooting responses” with store owners along St. Johns Avenue from Kingston Avenue to Utica Avenue. The students went into stores to ask employees and owners to discuss violence with us. Merchants wrote their own messages. One merchant spent nearly 30 minutes translating his message into English on his phone so that he could share his story.

The students from HSPS walked around Crown Heights asking people to open their stores and their hearts for a moment to discuss gun violence. The results was awe inspiring. Tons of merchants spoke to us and one Crown Heights resident who has lived in the neighborhood for over 20 years said, “wow it’s amazing to see these young people out here doing this.”

The HSPS students were able to get 18 different store merchants to create virtual shooting response posters. Amazing! All of the posters can be seen on our facebook page.

Another highlight was running into Rudy Suggs, an S.O.S. Violence Interrupter. Although on vacation, Rudy stopped for about 20 minutes to speak with the teens on the street. He was conducting class in the streets, the old school way, the way “the corner” was intended to be used.

Once we returned to the YOasis, we can an equally powerful debriefing of their day in the neighborhood representing SOS and YO SOS. Thank to HSPS for sharing this special day with us. YOUTH POWER!