How Are North Tulsa Leaders Addressing Violence?

Wednesday, May 13th 2009, 5:45 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- In the wake of the latest shooting, north Tulsa leaders have vowed to fight back against violence in their community.  But, how do they plan on accomplishing that?

Wednesday afternoon is practice time at a Pocket Full of Hope.  The program teaches musical theater, dance, and photography, but the real emphasis is on life skills.

"When you start generating those creative juices, and people are feeling good about themselves, that's contagious," said Dr. Lester Shaw with a Pocket Full of Hope.

Pocket Full of Hope is part of a renewed focus on mentoring in north Tulsa.  Educators, local leaders and area churches started the Clergy and Community Leaders Coalition last fall.  They say they felt compelled to do something after a string of shootings, including when one teen was killed, and three others injured after they were gunned down in their car.

While they admit Tuesday's murder of Jason Trent is a setback, they say are making progress.

"We know we are. It's hard to measure preventative activities.  It's hard to measure when a kid or person doesn't get shot," said Metropolitan Baptist Church Pastor Ray Owens.

The coalition says it now has 80 mentors who volunteer their time at places like Pocket Full of Hope, and they hope to reach 100 soon.

"We can't complain about the community that we have.  We can't complain about these things if we're not doing anything," said Dr. Lester Shaw with a Pocket Full of Hope.

Dr. Shaw believes his program, and others like it, are accomplishing something.  He says many of the kids come in angry and mal-adjusted, but leave with the skills they need to stay out of trouble.

"I see the transformation. I see them move from their despair, and I see them move into leadership roles," said Dr. Lester Shaw.

Dr. Shaw says 100% of the kids who participate in his program graduate from high school.

Information about becoming a mentor through the program is available on their website.