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'ThrYve' program works to prevent violence among youth in KCK through community engagement

Preventing youth violence in Kansas City, Kansas
Posted at 8:45 PM, Nov 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-02 21:45:00-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Violent crime is impacting youth on both sides of the state line, more recently in Kansas City, Kansas.

On Monday, a peaceful and parent-supervised Halloween party turned violent when multiple guests were asked to leave.

The suspects complied, left the property and then opened gun fire, killing 17-year-old Katron Harris and injuring six others.

ThrYve, a local group in partnership with the University of Kansas Health System, says they are working to prevent violent crime among youth.

“ThrYve stands for Together Helping Reduce Youth Violence for Equity," said Jomella Watson Thompson, director of ThrYve. "(It's a) youth violence prevention initiative, where ultimately we are focused on providing safe and supportive communities for our youth and our families through collaborative partnership."

Kalia London, a young woman who grew up in the Quindaro neighborhood in KCK, says she had a rough childhood.

London told KSHB 41 that ThrYve has helped change her life.

“I got into thrive when I was in eight grade, I figured I would be dead by then,” she said.

London said that at a young age, her reality was harsh.

“I grew up on Quindaro, it's pretty rough down there. There's a lot of youth crime,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of drive-bys by my house, like across the street, the house always got shot up and what not. You’ll sometimes walk out and there will be dead bodies on the corner.” 

After joining ThrYve, London said she now has a new outlook on life.

"I got involved in some stuff and being in the program occupied my time,” she said.

Steven James is the head facilitator at ThrYve. He said occupying the time of youth at local schools is important.

“A lot of violence happens outside of school time; in the evening, when parents have not made it home from work just yet,” he said. "A lot of times it's just because they are in that small box, and they have to be forced to be around stuff and they don't have control of getting away from it."

James works with students at Wyandotte High School, holding sessions and conversations with students in the program.

“We're trying to teach them before hand — before they actually get burnt, that these are the things that you may want to be involved in and pay attention to," James said.

ThrYve works with many partners in the community, including Youth Revive, to create a plan of safety and security for kids.

“The concept behind the curriculum is to help students find their voice,” said Adrian McConnell, executive director for Youth Revive. “We teach students how to identify their values and how values are important to their community.”

Monica Mendez, another facilitator for Thryve, works with students at Sumner Academy.

Mendez says she works on teaching youth how to be involved in the community and do community service.

“What are some of the things that they see in the community as an asset and things that they could change,” she said. 

James said the curriculum taught by ThrYve can help students survive by staying off the rough streets.

London, who is now a freshman at KCKCC studying mechanical engineer, says that because of ThrYve, she sees a new future for herself.