More than 100 people of all different ages showed up at the River of Life Church in Aiken on Sunday. (WRDW-TV / March 26, 2012)
News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, March 25, 2012
AIKEN, S.C. -- Gangs, bullying and violence are all problems you have probably seen or heard about. And they are a problem among even the youngest.
That's why law enforcement, elected officials and educators met in Aiken Sunday night. Their mission was to find ways to help the youth right here in our towns.
The group behind this all is called Youth Restoration Alliance. It's a new group that evolved from seven others who all wanted to do the same thing.
More than 100 people of all different ages showed up at the River of Life Church in Aiken on Sunday.
Annetta Mills with Save Our Students was excited about the turnout.
"It shows that people are listening to us now and that we're trying to make a difference and they're hearing what we're saying," she said.
And after her last meeting in Aiken, Anetta says it's a step in the right direction.
"When we held ours in New Ellenton we had about 12 to 15 people there," she said. "So we're moving along in Aiken County."
They were there with seven other groups to take on some of the toughest issues facing our youth.
Jackie Hyche works is a parent and knows the issues well.
"I have four children and they've all gone through the public school system," she said. "There's bullying, there's gangs, there's violence. There's a lot of low self-esteem, there's a lot of lack of just feeling love."
Speaker Scott Larson has worked with kids throughout the country and came to share his experience.
"Scott Larson, he is an excellent speaker," said Wyman Pope with the Youth Restoration Alliance. "He has authored over 10 books so he knows what we need to do to deal with the youth."
Many listened and took notes to take back to their communities.
Judy Floyd works with Christ Central and has a notepad full of information to share with her group.
"I think it's very important to write it down and to go back and to review it and see step by step what you can do because he laid it out pretty good," she said.
The key to those steps is to start with the youth.
"You have to go out there and you have to say you know what would you like to see happen," Hyche said.
And even though this meeting had a similar message to many others, they say the difference is that this meeting doesn't stop here.
Devon Harris with Full Circle Refuge said they have lots of plans for the future.
"There's already next steps in place, there's a next event, people, we have next meetings."
Meetings that Annetta said she hopes will draw an even bigger crowd.
At the meeting they really did start with the youth by pulling them all out of the audience and up on the stage to talk about bullying and problems in their daily lives.
Now each group will take all the steps they learned and really start to implement them in their individual groups and communities.