Youth mentor believes children can help shed light on recent violence in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Seven homicides in less than two weeks.

“We can’t sweep this up under the carpet,” says youth mentor David Gilkey. “When you hear people say it is the norm? That is not the norm?”

Wichita now has 36. That’s two more than last year.

“Who is going to die next? Who is going to get shot next?” asks Gilkey.

He’s says he has seen enough.

“It is almost like we have a homicide or a shooting every week now,” says Gilkey.

Gilkey has been a youth mentor in the community for more than a decade.

In 2014, he and his wife started Rise Up for Youth, where they mentor more than 250 kids every year in four different schools in Kansas.

He says the violence is claiming too many young lives.

“I done lost 12 boys to homicide since I been doing this work, and it is almost like I lost one a year,” explains Gilkey.

Gilkey has been a part of community meetings with other mentors as well as Police Chief Gordon Ramsay trying to find some solution to all the violence.

But he believes it may rest on the testimony of a much younger crowd.

“We have to start talking to our young people on that level now,” says Gilkey.

Gilkey believes talking to teens can shed light on why so many people are killing each other.

“You got to have those conversations now. You can’t look at it like ‘they are too young, they wouldn’t understand’…Yeah they understand.”

Gilkey says many come from broken homes and are on the frontlines. He says it gives them a unique perspective and opportunity to help.

“We better start addressing our young people and giving them a voice so we can get some answers to what is going on in our community and our streets,” explains Gilkey.

He says there should be a teen summit at churches or schools where teens should be given a mic to pass around and talk about important issues in the city and country.