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Project Safe Neighborhoods Forum: August 6

Project Safe Neighborhoods Forum: August 6

Posted: August 2, 2012

High school students participating in Buffalo State’s Upward Bound program are hosting a public discussion intended to effect change. The students have invited policymakers, law enforcement officers, school leaders, parents of victims, and anti-violence activists to participate in a free public forum titled, "Project Safe Neighborhoods," from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Monday, August 6, in Bulger Communication Center, South Lecture Hall.

Panelists include New York Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes; Erie County Legislature Chair Betty Jean Grant; FBI Safe Streets Task Force Supervising Agent Jimmy Jancewicz; Masten District Councilmember Demone Smith; Stop the Violence Coalition Director Arlee Daniels; Buffalo City Court Judge Debra Givens; Lafayette High School Principal Naomi Cerre, and Buffalo Public Schools Associate Superintendent Will Keresztes.

The goal of the forum is to produce an action plan to reduce violence among young people with concrete steps that can be monitored over the coming year, said Don Patterson, director of Buffalo State’s Upward Bound program. The federally funded program provides academic advising, study skills instruction, tutoring, and counseling services to students enrolled at East Buffalo, Lafayette, McKinley high schools, among others, during the school year and summer. Since Upward Bound began at Buffalo State in 1986, it has served thousands of students.

"When I asked the kids how many personally know a victim of violence, everyone raised their hands," Patterson said. "They said the violence in the city affects their immediate families, their cousins, their neighbors, and their friends."

This marks the first time Upward Bound has hosted such a forum.

"The participants have discussed the problem of violence in the past, but this is the first time they’ve wanted to hold a panel to come up with solutions," Patterson said. "They’ve identified concerns and recognize that they have the ability to change things. They want to take the discussion to the next level."

Bianca Brice, an Upward Bound 11th grader, said she sees the upcoming forum "as a way of saving innocent lives that are taken away just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Brice added that she has "lost family and friends to gun and knife violence for no reason or for stupid reasons."

Over the summer, Upward Bound students have been filming interviews of both victims and perpetrators of violent acts. The students compiled the interviews into a series of vignettes they plan to show at the beginning of the forum leading into the panel discussion on how to eradicate violence.

For more information, contact Patterson at (716) 878-3446 or patterda@buffalostate.edu.

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