Back-to-School Parties Aim to Curb Youth Violence

Omaha neighborhoods are hoping to instill the idea of peace and safety in the weeks before kids head to school.

Backpacks, bike giveaways, and water balloon fights, it was all part of the fun Saturday. In both North Omaha and South, local organizations threw these back-to-school parties all with hopes of keeping the message of peace known well into the fall.

In boxing, the one-two punch is an effective combo to knock out your opponent. But this training is meant to happen in the ring, not in the streets and while many of the youth at at back-to-school party near 27th & Harrison will head back to class as the summer comes to a close, crime still remains. "We are ready to go, we keep the doors open we realize the drugs, the gangs and stuff like that are bidding for these kids' lives all year round, so we keep the doors open all year round, as well,” Servando Perales, with Victory Boxing Club said.

The language gets old for some parents though, tired of the real fighting that does spill out into the streets. But that's the point of this back-to-school bash in South Omaha, promoting peace through community connections. "I think it kind of brings everybody together, instead of the fighting and stuff, it is a good thing for the community to have resources, for them to reach out,” Sara Vasquez said.

"The whole premise for this is to promote education, peace and community and just a minute ago I asked everybody to introduce yourself, find out who they are, where they live and let's try to promote community and get that sense of neighborhood back,” L. D. Richardson, Pastor with Mount Zion Lutheran Church said.

And then there is the Summer Fun Dayz at Eagle's Nest Worship Center off 57th and Sorensen Parkway, there they expected 6,000 people. With the goal of promoting self-esteem for children of low income families through supplying back packs filled with new school supplies.

"Everything is faith based and everything is teaching kids about god and get to interact and mingle with your neighbors and everybody else,” Gwen Jackson said.

The Summer Fun Dayz gave out supplies to 1500 students today, all of them in the North Omaha area.

Pastor Richardson says the South Omaha party is just one of four upcoming events. It's all being made possible thanks to a grant from the Nebraska Crime Commission.

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