AIKEN, SC (WFXG) - The Aiken Department of Public Safety says they’ve seen a ‘decrease in violence’ in the community, especially in one area: Paces Run Apartments. One community outreach team is doing their best to target this area.
The Aiken Street Team’s original plan was to go into various neighborhoods in the city and build relationships with residents, especially children. But that didn’t stick. They started in Paces Run back in 2017 and have been there ever since. They realized the relationships they wanted to form were important and there were some concerns if they were to move on too quickly. Once per week, they put a tent out in paces run to read with the children and help with homework. The team wants to teach the young people that they can defy all stereotypes by them knowing who they are, where they come from, and the importance of education.
Cynthia Mitchell with Aiken Department of Safety Community Services believes this can increase the outcome of a safe community. “We’re coming to the table now and we are beginning to talk about healing and trauma in our communities. We don’t want our community, our children to grow up with the normalized view that violence and continuing to hear gunshots and those type of things is normal for them. We don’t want to normalize that for them.”
As they work, they are beginning to see the future of Aiken by seeing other people stand up and take action to help crime filled areas in Aiken. One volunteer, Christopher Emanuel, has really been involved. He feels like it’s the community’s responsibility to teach peace by starting with the youth and then it will change families. “It takes a village to raise a child, so the child can come back and raise the village. We train our children in the way they should go so they will never depart from our teachings. It’s our responsibility. It’s is our job to show our children what it means to be a king and a queen."
This year, Street Team, along with other community partners, gave away 250 pairs of Vans shoes. Together, the Street Team says it’s helping to peel back layers of misunderstanding, mistrust, and misinformation.