"We're trying to get an opportunity to interact with the community, let the community voices be heard."
Millikin University and the Salvation Army teamed up to host part three of its 2022 Decatur Peace Summit Series on 五月 4 at the Salvation Army 社区 Center in Decatur, 生病了.
Titled, "Where are we now?" community leaders during the event came together to brainstorm ways to support local teens and break the cycle of violence.
The event featured keynote speaker Heather Canuel, a carceral activist and advocate of the Women's Justice Institute. Canuel shared her raw experience with students at the summit. She was jailed in 2003 and gave birth shackled to a hospital bed. Now, she's turned that pain into purpose, creating the organization Art From The Heart.
"We want to make sure that youth understand that art is also a way to express their emotions. And that there are lots of ways for them to get grants for poetry, 为艺术, 的壁画," Canuel said in an interview with WAND-TV.
Professor Keyria罗杰斯, director of criminal justice at Millikin University and 生病了inois Juvenile Justice Commissioner, also presented on restorative justice and its recent impact on different laws in 生病了inois.
Rodgers and her students presented information on local criminal justice data trends (and myths) about Decatur crime statistics.
Rodgers says bringing programs to Macon County, like Art From The Heart, will help prevent violence and heal youth in the community. “流行后, a lot of programs that used to be there may not necessarily have the same resources that they had before. So now we just come together and figure out what we can do to serve the community," she said.
Rodgers plans to use her experience as a Millikin professor and grant writer to help secure funding for new programs to better address the violence children in Decatur are witnessing.
"A whole wrap around, so instead of focusing on one or two individuals of the family, they have resources to provide and focus on the whole entire family,”罗杰斯补充道.
在一个 interview with WCIA-TV, Rodgers said they were inspired to host the peace summit series by communities like Chicago that have restorative justice hubs.
"We’re trying to get an opportunity to interact with the community, let the community voices be heard about what it is they feel we need here,”罗杰斯说. "By letting the community be a part of the conversation, it becomes a community involvement project."
So far, Rodgers believes the peace summits are working.
"There are a lot more people having conversations about what more we can do, how do we take the initiatives that have already started, how can we build on those,”罗杰斯说. "It's definitely having an impact and I'm glad to be a part of it."
Rodgers noted that the peace summits are for anyone who is wanting to make a change in their community and that the summits bring them one step closer to starting a peace hub in Decatur.