Flamon Lewis isn’t letting the recent increase in crime get him down: for another year, the organizer of the Night Out Against Gun Violence tried to pull out all the stops for his annual event, which is meant to keep or put local youth on a “positive path.”
“With all that’s been going on, it does get disheartening,” said Lewis, the Law Enforcement Planning Commission’s Night Out Against Violence committee chairman. “It is difficult when someone loses a life. It does put us back. But we have to keep persevering and putting attention on what’s going on.”
Lewis said that part of the committee’s mission to is “mobilize” churches and other community organizations within local neighborhoods, which have been encouraged to start forming everything from watch groups to activity groups that would be responsible for funding “positive things” for young people to do.
“It starts in the neighborhoods. It starts in the homes,” Lewis said Friday night as he prepared for the Night Out event in Emancipation Garden on St. Thomas.
“And now, more and more we are also looking to the churches to get involved because it also starts with spirituality and putting kids on the positive path.”
Lewis said that close to 30 churches were involved in Friday’s event, which gives students a chance to perform, while also giving families access to information about organizations and different programs within the community.
While Lewis said the Night Out has been sticking to its program for the past few years, the committee is also looking forward to a bigger 30th anniversary program next year.
“I feel events like these really do touch the heart of the youth,” said Leah MacSheen, a 10th-grader at Charlotte Amalie High School, before performing with her church pantomime group.
“I like coming out here and seeing other kids, but I think there should be a lot more,” MacSheen said. “More activities like this would give the youth something to do and would give them more of a chance to be around positive people spreading a positive message.”