Coalition to focus on preventing gun and group violence among youth
CHESTER (September 28) – Local elected and community leaders today announced the launch of The Safer Schools Stronger Neighborhoods (SSSN) coalition to increase coordination to prevent, intervene, and respond to gun and group violence among youth and young adults ages 11-24 in the City of Chester.
SSSN is led by Cyrise Dixon, who recently transitioned to her role as the group’s Community Violence Intervention Coordinator after a 42-year career in law enforcement. Under the umbrella of the CASA Youth Advocates team, the coalition brings together several Delaware County nonprofits with the common goal of reducing gun violence in the city of Chester. Along with CASA, the members of Safer Schools Stronger Neighborhoods include Chester Education Foundation, Chester Community Coalition, Boys and Girls Club of Chester, Crozer Health Trauma Program, Widener University, and the Making a Change Group.
“Youth violence is one of the most pressing issues in Delaware County,” says Dr. Monica Taylor, Chair of Delaware County Council. “Investments in violence prevention, support, and life skills are critical to provide to young people to give them tools they can use – hopefully stopping violence before it even starts.”
Safer Schools Stronger Neighborhoods was established to help young people get on a better path by connecting them with services and people who want to help and empower them. Initial funding for the formation of SSSN is made possible by a founding grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and a grant from the Delaware County Council.
“Safer Schools Stronger Neighborhoods is working to establish programs and interventions that are tailored to the Chester community – specifically addressing the physical, mental, and social-emotional needs of our youth and young adults,” says Dr. Marina Barnett, the Interim Assistant Provost for Civic Engagement at Widener University, who is leading the research and analysis that will inform SSSN’s approach to youth violence intervention.
SSSN will deliver violence prevention education to youth ages 11 to 18, with some young people also receiving in-school interventions, mentoring, social support and referrals for needed resources.
Through SSSN, younger adults age 18 to 24 will receive workforce readiness and life skills training and youth 11 to 24 affected by violence will receive crisis response services, case management and access to therapy.