Local group fighting to keep youth safe, on the right path amidst violence

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) –  Four, that’s the number of Wichita teens murdered just this year.

On top of that, seven teens have been arrested in the homicides that have taken place so far in 2017.

One local group says even one life lost is too many.

That’s why they’re fighting to keep area kids safe and on the right path.

Rise Up For Youth Inc. has been serving teenage girls and boys at four area high schools for the past four years.

Tonight, they had their annual Christmas party, where about 100 kids turned out.

Dearah Woods, a sophomore at Wichita Southeast High school says the event involved food, music and games.

“It’s a good thing to go to, it’s positive and it is a fun time,” said Woods.

A sentiment echoed by Wichita East High School senior Xian Sullivan.

“It is good to have a bunch of youth go out and do more things that are more constructive,” said Sullivan.

Both well aware of what has transpired this year, with four homicides and seven arrests made of people 18-years old and under.

“Sometimes the things that happen it’s just out of nowhere, it’s not expected, so that is the scariest part,” said Woods. ” does make me a little sad knowing that people my age are dropping, that’s affecting us,” added Sullivan.

David Gilkey, the Program Director for Rise Up For Youth says it is incidents like that are troublesome.

“It kind of bothers me because it is so many young people dying and so many young people getting locked up,” said Gilkey.

Which is why Gilkey says more events like this need to be held to help out the younger people in the community.

“We want to show them that we care about them, we are going to do something special for them on Friday night because these could be doing other things, you know, running the streets, doing different things,” said Gilkey.

It is something those who turned out, like Woods and Sullivan, say is a positive.

“Just educating our youth, you know, it just really starts with that at the base,” said Sullivan. “I think it will pull more people together if it is fun,” added Woods.

Going forward, Gilkey says he hopes to have what he calls,a teen summit, at some point in the near future.

He says the event would give young people a place and a chance to speak out.. about some of the things that have been going on in the community