AFTER WEEKEND SHOOTING, CITY LEADERS WORK TO PROMOTE YOUTH MENTOR PROGRAM
Reporting by WVUA 23’s Lacey Beasley
Youth involvement in a shooting that left two injured at McKenzie Court on Jan. 25 is stirring leaders to make a difference. One program is specifically aimed at mentoring young people in hopes of keeping them out of trouble.
Some Tuscaloosa leaders, such as Rodney Pelt and Romel Gibson, are concerned with the ongoing violence, especially from teenagers.
“My first, very first reaction was, ‘Oh Lord, not again,’” said Gibson, community outreach coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa. “I’m initially originally from Chicago. This city is not big enough for some of the things I’m seeing happen as consistently as it’s happening.”
The shooting is not the first to happen in Tuscaloosa in 2020, but Pelt wants to work to make it the city’s last. And while both men’s reactions to hearing about the shooting left them overwhelmed, they said they will do all they can to influence teens positively moving forward.
“My first reaction was despair to know that our youth have nothing better to do on a Saturday night than engage each other in violence, and especially with a gun,” Pelt said.
But, hope is not lost on these two city leaders. Through Pelt’s program called MindChangers, the goal is to promote non-violence with at-risk teens through mentorship. Gibson’s greatest goal for the future of Tuscaloosa teens is to bring them to a wholesome community and encourage them to step away from violence.
“I pray that our community would finally get to a point where we’re willing to be proactive and not reactive, and on the front end, we would be consistent with providing opportunities and resources and programs, and even just building relationships with those in the community,” Gibson said.
No arrests have been made yet in regard to the shooting suspects. If anyone witnessed these events or has information, contact the Tuscaloosa Police Department or Crime Stoppers. For those who would like to join the MindChangers mentorship program or learn more about it, visit mindchangers1.com.