Efforts underway to bring national anti-violence program to Columbus

Efforts underway to bring national anti-violence program to Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A group of citizens is looking to bring a national program to Columbus in hopes of treating the epidemic of violence that’s plaguing the city.

Reggie Lewis and Cedric Hill joined forces to bring the Cure Violence program to Columbus. They say, it’s going to take a community effort to make this work.

“We realize that in areas of the community, the Columbus Community, you’ve got clustering of violence,” said Hill. “So, Cure Violence works in the sense of interrupting that. First of all, you have to take an analysis of what’s going on in the city. The assessment for us is the biggest picture, because it gives us the physical examination that we need for the Columbus community.”

“Based on taking people from the community, what we call interrupters,” Lewis said. “These interrupters are used or trained to handle situations where we have violent events. We are looking at Cure Violence, and impacting the way we can reduce violence and remove and change the norms of the community.”

The interrupters would go out to the scenes and find the families impacted by violence or identify people most at high risk of “transmission” of violence, and step in and intervene in whatever way necessary for each specific situation. Those interrupters would offer specific services to the family that might include job training, mentorship, help people get their GED, or help people become home owners.

Dr. Asante Hilts with the Columbus Health Department is one of the partners working to bring the national program to the city.

“Because violence doesn’t just affect one part of our community,” Hilts said. “If it’s affecting one part, it’s affecting all. It affects which businesses are going to come to Columbus. People don’t want to come here if it’s a violent community. It’s a strategy that looks at violence as a health epidemic. It addresses the health issue. It understands that violence has some social determinacies, some underlying causes of what’s driving violence in certain communities. We want mental health to be involved, we want public health to be involved, we want the educational system, we want community-based organizations, we want the hospital systems. So, our goal is to get support from each one of those agencies and we work together to address violence. It can’t be addressed in a silo.”

For more information on the global model or how you can get involved, click here.

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