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StreetSafe Boston and Mothers for Justice and Equality Speak to Simmons Students

October 18, 2013

On October 16th, Simmons World Challenge (SWC) Coordinator Ben Cole and SWC faculty Hugo Kamya and Kathy Wisser welcomed representatives from StreetSafe Boston and Mothers for Justice and Equality to discuss the realities of urban and gang violence in Boston.

"I was enlightened, if deeply disturbed, to listen to the StreetSafe workers describing the severity and frequency of violence and homicide in their own neighborhoods - indeed on their own blocks - in Boston. I was struck by the disparity between our idyllic surroundings here on the Fenway and the poverty and violence occurring just a train-ride away," said Cole.

StreetSafe Boston is a non-profit dedicated to reducing gang violence in Boston. They spoke to students about the impacts and causes of gang violence, and the strategies employed by StreetSafe Boston to make the city safer-- including direct interventions on gangs in the hardest hit neighborhoods, and delivering community-based services and programs for gang-involved youth.

"One of the Streetsafe workers managed to keep his neighborhood safe for more than two years with some basic community-building programs. Mothers for Justice and Equality have also had success at solving the problem of street violence in our city," said Cole.

Sarah Flint, a board member of Mothers for Justice and Equality (MJE) and the mother of homicide victim Jimmy Flint, spoke to the power of community members (particularly empowered mothers) to end neighborhood violence. MJE believes that education empowers MJE members to take action and make change, and that public actions and campaigns are important to challenge the normalization of violence.

Both groups discussed the importance of engaging at-risk youths and communities with services like education, jobs and/or benefits to make a difference in keeping youth safe and reducing violence. Members of the Simmons community also have a role to play in making the Boston community safer.

"One of the leaders of Streetsafe began the event last night by saying that the Simmons students in the room, both as individuals and representatives of their generation, have an opportunity and the responsibility to prevent violence in our neighborhoods. Simmons World Challenge provides Simmons sophomores with an opportunity to develop a practical solution to violence at any level, including the streets of Boston," said Cole.

"The presentations and dialogue between Streetsafe, Mothers for Justice and Equality, and our students provided a glimpse into the causes and strategies for mitigating local-level violence, and also served as an example of the way our classes in Simmons World Challenge will run, with a heavy focus on community partnership, frequent engagement with guest speakers and lecturers, and a student-driven curriculum."

Students interested in applying for Simmons World Challenge should submit their applications by Monday, October 21, at 12:00 PM. Questions and concerns can be directed to benjamin.cole@simmons.edu.

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