Summer day camps aim to help teens ‘reframe’ gun violence
June 5, 2023
Kalamazoo nonprofit Urban Alliance is bringing back a series of youth day camps this summer aimed at changing the narrative surrounding gun violence.
James Harris, who is the outreach manager for Urban Alliance, said the life camps, now in their second year, help kids and young adults reshape how they think about guns and their own two hands.
“It’s not necessarily the gun that hurts people, it’s the hand that the gun is in,” Harris said. “If we can change the narrative about the purpose of gun usage, we believe that we can help kids to just rethink pulling that trigger.”
The theme of the camps is “Hands are Meant to Heal, Not Kill.” Organizers believe around 150 kids between the ages of 11 and 16 will take part in discussions and activities designed to help them avoid cycles of gun violence. The goal is to teach them what’s acceptable and not when using a gun. Activities include shooting paintball guns at non-human targets and having a NERF or water gun fight.
“In that, once you shoot the paintball, gun, once you shoot the NERF ball gun, once you shoot the water gun… no one is hurt. You’re not looking for the police. You’re not about to do prison time. You’re still free,” Harris said. “Again, (we’re) just helping them rethink the usage of guns.”
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