Atlanta Mayor declares 2023 ‘Year of the Youth’
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) -Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens is declaring 2023 the “Year of the Youth” for the city.
The mayor gathered representatives from Atlanta Public Schools, the city, the police department, and local nonprofits to go over his plan to make Atlanta the “best place to raise a child.”
“We want everyone engaged in this endeavor. Everyone who lives here, everyone who does business here, everyone that even travels here can help support the ATL year of the youth,” said Dickens.
The mayor says the city is putting effort and money into child development starting at infancy. They’re also working on increasing graduation rates, working with groups to eliminate food insecurity, keeping parks and recreational facilities open with after-school programs, and giving $1 million to nonprofits that support Atlanta’s kids and teens through the Youth Development Grant Program.
In 2022, the City of Atlanta invested roughly $4 million into a summer youth employment program that hired roughly 3,000 youth, according to Dickens.
The declaration comes as teen gun violence continues to rise.
According to Atlanta Police, 19 children and teens died from gun violence in 2022. In 2021, 17 children and teens died from gun violence, according to records acquired by Atlanta News First.
On January 21, 13-year-old Deshon DuBose was shot near the Cascade Skating Center in Atlanta.
DuBose died at the hospital from his injuries.
“He was an innocent bystander, and so we’re working, we’re really working with our afterschool programs, our non-profits, of course with Atlanta Public Schools to really talk about how to deescalate issues,” said Dickens, in a press conference on Monday.
“And we going to find the killer that did it,” said Dickens, who said he talked with the DuBose family over the weekend.
The Atlanta Police Department released surveillance video and photos related to the fatal shooting.
“That’s why we have to do this Year of the Youth to love on these kids so that no one else has to feel this tragedy that Ms. Charlotte Debose right now feels,” Dickens said.
Local advocates said that the City cannot be the only one invested in youth.
“There’s so much agony going on. So we’re trying to give people a voice too many people are being shut up before they can really express their hearts,” said Keith Lewis, founder of ‘I’m a Father First’.
Lewis said that parents must also do their part to help usher in responsible youth.
“It starts at home, so I think that’s one of the things that we want to focus on. More parent programming, more ways to empower the parent,” said Lewis, in an interview with Atlanta News First on Monday.
Lewis said his organization is holding a Youth Task Force meeting on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Riverdale to address the rise in teen violence.
It is at Rent-A-Hall at 820 Bethsaida Road in Riverdale. It is open to the public.
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