KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At 15-years-old, Mi’Yah Johnson has lost friends to gun violence and wants to steer teenagers in a different direction.
“I feel like I’m the person my community needs,” Johnson said.
Johnson wants to give kids her age something to do, but at the end of the day she wants to keep them safe.
“I’m smart, I have the opportunity to do it,” she said.
Johnson created The KC Marching Showstoppers, a drill team dedicated to more than dance.
“It’s hard, I don’t like seeing kids my age die young,” she said. “They couldn’t graduate or do the things they were supposed to do.”
Her mom, Mia Taylor, who also helps coach the team, sees the impact firsthand.
“Sometimes, I can’t even believe, it she’s so strong,” Taylor said. “She has lost a lot of friends.”
Johnson's inspiration to start the drill team came from her Michael Parks, who was shot and killed on Oct. 13.
“He was one of my best friends, we were close [and] he told me to follow my dreams, and this is what I came up with," Johnson said.
Their hope is to lead the effort toward change.
“I really put in a lot of hard work on this, and to get this far and let people know my age that I can do it,” Johnson said.
Taylor reflected on how it feels to watch her daughter want to improve the community around her.
“Something about when you want it to stop and you want it to be better and you look at your child and think, 'Wow, she really wants to do better,'" Taylor said. "She really wants things better for her community.”
Johnson is proving that teenagers truly can step into a brighter future.
“I want to take this really far [and] I want to march in front of the President, that’s how far," Johnson said.
The KC Marching Showstoppers first competition is next spring in Chicago.
A GoFundMe was set up for new uniforms, drums and a place where the boys and girls can practice.