New Milwaukee anti-violence initiative aims to reward young people for good behavior

NOW: New Milwaukee anti-violence initiative aims to reward young people for good behavior

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The city of Milwaukee and several youth organizations are hoping a new initiative will help lead to a safer summer. The goal is to reward young people for good conduct and encourage them to model it for their peers.

Young people tell us they see the shootings, violence and reckless driving, and they feel it. They say they want it to stop and they want to lead the way.

The orange "Safer City MKE" wristbands are a reminder to not only model good behavior, they're a way to connect with other young people making the same commitment.

It's not always easy to be a kid in Milwaukee.

Ladora Diggins-Grice, an incoming 9th grader, said, "It's always gunshots, fighting, violence in general."

And incoming 8th grader Ayanah Dorsey said, "We've become accustomed to all the gunshots, the sirens, the cars, the break-ins, the people getting shot every day."

They say the increased crime and violence take a toll.

Diggins-Grice said, "Anytime you want to go walk to the corner store it's always something going on, like it's always gunshots, fighting, violence in general."

Dorsey said, "More teenagers are dying every year, more people are hurt every day, people are getting shot at every day."

The new "Safer City MKE" initiative will help young people influence their peers. 5,000 wristbands will be passed out this summer.

Renee Logee is the Executive Director at UNCOM.

She said, "We want our young Milwaukeeans to get noticed and rewarded for making positive choices, having fun, and being active."

Mayor Cavalier Johnson says young people copying negative behavior is hurting the community.

Diggins-Grice said, "When we see stuff that adults have guns, smoking, all of that, we get influenced by that."

Which is why Johnson said positive reinforcement is so important.

He said, "Making Milwaukee safer is much more than arresting criminals or stopping crime."

And it's a citywide effort. MPD Inspector Shannon Seymer-Tabaska said, "You will be the future leaders one day within our community, within our city. And we are here to walk beside you."

And MFD Assistant Fire Chief Joshua Parish said, "We also look at it as an investment because there are a ton of young people here, and I'll be honest because it's amazing to see you all because I would love to hire you all."

Young people tell us they're confident this program and others like it will make a difference.

Dorsey said, "A bunch of these kids could be out selling drugs or stealing cars and stuff. But instead they're here and they're getting help, and they're working, and they're staying busy."

Mayor Johnson says rewarding kids for positive behavior is good not just for them but for the entire city.

The bracelets will be passed out to young people at various summer programs in the coming weeks.

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