MKE Peace Projects challenges local youth

MKE Peace Project is asking the youth in the central city to submit written entries to be considered for the project, and prizes are also being offered for the top entries.

Prizes to be awarded for MPP entries will be announced by the Brewers, Bucks and Summerfest at tomorrow's news conference. Also, thanks to the generous support of the Bader Philanthropies, the Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation, Discovery World, and the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, additional prizes will be awarded. Prizes will be provided to winning teams, finalists, as well as random drawings from all who submitted responses.

Developed by Common Council President Michael J. Murphy in collaboration with members of the Common Council, the goal of the MPP is simple: to promote youth dialogues around violence prevention.

\"We believe that in order to imagine and promote peace in Milwaukee, our youth must be actively involved. But, talking about the problems is not enough,\" President Murphy said.

\"By simultaneously challenging youth to provide solutions to the problems they identified, we are asking them to envision the opposite of violence around them-we are challenging them to imagine peace,\" President Murphy said.

President Murphy and Council members are expected to be joined by representatives of several community partners, including the Milwaukee Brewers, the Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee Christian Center, Bader Philanthropies, the United Community Center, Clear Channel, Journey House, the Center for Youth Engagement, Running Rebels, MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver, Coming Together Partnership, and Discovery World.

Common Council members, including Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, Alderman Willie C. Wade, Alderman Terry L. Witkowski, Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II, Alderman Nik Kovac, Alderman Robert J. Bauman, Alderman José G. Pérez and Alderman Joe Dudzik, are also expected to attend.

\"It occurred to several of us that no one in a position to offer policy or other key changes in Milwaukee has asked Milwaukee's youth for their input on our problems with deadly violence,\" Hamilton said. \"In this project, we are doing just that - asking our youth to identify their own neighborhood challenges and to offer their own ideas about opportunities for community safety and advancement.\"

Alderman Wade said he looks forward to the enhanced level of engagement with youth on the issue of violence. \"Civility is an important issue often times overlooked in society,\" Alderman Wade said. \"We have to do more to move it to the forefront -- all of us -- but especially leaders, both young and old.\"

The MPP is also looking to provide Milwaukee youth with an opportunity to represent and advocate on behalf of their own generation and neighborhoods to influence public policy related to civic issues (especially as it relates to violence prevention), and to provide city youth the space to voice concerns in local affairs.

Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs said the search for violence prevention solutions should rightfully extend to every block and every demographic in Milwaukee, including young people. \"Sometimes the best suggestions and solutions come from the future, from the children and youth,\" Alderwoman Coggs said.

\"I am hopeful that our youth will express themselves through the MKE Peace Project in such a way that we are enlightened by their ideas and their vision,\" she said.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver said the project is \"an important initial collaborative effort between youth and adults to address the issues impacting our community.\" \"It is vital that we create safe spaces for our young people to be heard and for their ideas to be listened to and acted upon,\" she said. \"As adults, it is our responsibility to support their efforts to bring peace to the city and to create safe places for them to learn and grow.\"

President Murphy said the Common Council is planning to implement some of the finalists' suggestions during the course of the summer.

The MPP is targeting Milwaukee's at-risk youth, particularly those still in school and connected to positive programs and systems. The areas and schools being targeted for youth input include those neighborhoods where Milwaukee Police Department statistics show there's a high rate of violent crime perpetrated by youth on victims who are also youth.

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