By Kevin Carrico, Vice President of Operations, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida
“Community outraged after 6 deaths in 4 days of Jacksonville gun violence.” That was the headline on News4JAX today, and it’s true. The community is outraged and they should be. Gun violence and senseless killing have been the norm in Jacksonville for a while now. It’s a well-known cycle we’ve all seen for years. A teenager loses their life, then pastors and community leaders speak up, then another shooting happens and the elected officials hold a press conference, then the sheriff does a walk. “We need more police” the community says, then “we need to fix the family structure” say the pastors, then someone says “we need to fix the schools,” or “we need more after school programs….” I’m not saying any of that isn’t true. I also think there are a lot of people working hard on the front lines in the schools, at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office, with the after school providers, and even City Hall. I’m not blaming anybody, far too often we focus on who’s at fault and don’t talk enough about solutions.
What I’m saying is our kids deserve better. They deserve schools that teach them not only to read and do math, but to give them a clear direction to the multitude of pathways that their future could hold. They need programs after school that give them positive adult role models, teach them healthy habits, and introduce them to things in the arts, culture, music, and sports that the school system can’t always provide. Yes our kids deserve better. A safe neighborhood, positive relations with law enforcement, job’s for their parents that pay a living wage, and hope for a future beyond their wildest dreams. I’m asking us all to do our part, whatever we can do… Volunteer, advocate, vote for people who have the community’s best interest at heart, donate, pray, and most importantly love one another. Raise your kids to know right from wrong, to respect themselves, their peers, and authority. Teach them how to fail, how to win with grace, and how to value life. When you’re done, teach the kid down the street whose dad is deployed or whose mom works two jobs. Teach the young parents who didn’t have anybody to teach them. Let’s get back to pride in our families and pride in our communities. I’m ready to do my part, can I count on you to do yours?