National Gun Violence Awareness Day: Groups call for change as victims get younger

NOW: National Gun Violence Awareness Day: Groups call for change as victims get younger

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- On National Gun Violence Awareness Day, several groups said we must act now. It's a problem we're seeing all too often: kids, sometimes young kids, being shot. 

Virtually everyone from doctors to police officers to community leaders said it's time for a change.

Dr. Michael Levas, who is part of the emergency department at Children's Wisconsin, said he is seeing way too many children being hit by bullets and the problem is only getting worse.

"We've definitely seen, in the last year, an uptick. In 2020 we saw in the 70s, which is a lot of youth, but in 2021 we saw over 140 kids who were victims of gun violence," said Dr. Levas.

It's a sight he said he will never get used to.

"It's very traumatic to see a six, seven, 8-year-old with a bullet hole in them and to listen to them crying because they're in pain," said Dr. Levas.

Dr. Levas and others at Children's Wisconsin are trying to make a difference through Project Ujima. It's an intervention program where crime victim advocates come to the bedside of gun victims to get them the help they need. They try and stop the cycle of violence.

On Friday, community organizations gathered at Coffee Makes You Black to offer up solutions with their 4 Korners For Peace Initiative.

"We have a plan and we've been working our plan and we're going to continue to work the plan all summer long, and we're going to give resources to our children," said Tynnetta Jackson of SOULS.

Jackson spearheaded Friday's event and said the vision for the initiative started with Lieutenant Pamela Holmes of the Milwaukee Police Department. The initiative plan includes de-escalating violent situations and providing mental health resources for teens and young adults.

"She [Holmes] wanted to bring together members of the community, members of the police district, members from the health and wellness insight, let us find different ways that we can bring peace to this community," said Montreal Cain, executive director of MERA WI.

The 4 Korners For Peace Initiative is still in its infancy stages, but they do plan to hold several community events throughout the summer.

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