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Youth violence prevention to get conference stress

Youth safety will be the item of interest when Memphis City Schools and the Memphis/Shelby County Children and Youth Council hosts a public forum April 4-5.

From 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. each day at the Teaching and Learning Academy, 2485 Union Ave., the third annual "Assuring Safe Futures for Our Children Conference" (http://thirdannualassuringsafefutures.eventbrite.com/#) will present the latest innovations in youth violence prevention and intervention.

"This is our time to inform the masses – from parents to professional staff who work with children every day – about new practices in youth violence prevention," said Ronald Pope, MCS director of Student Engagement.

"Youth violence prevention is important for everyone whether a child is at risk or not," said Pope

"We want our entire community aware of what's going on so that citizens can utilize available resources on a daily basis."

Conference workshops will cover current and new programs in youth safety, including Memphis "Gun Down" Comprehensive Violence Reduction Strategy, the MCS G.R.A.S.S.Y Initiative (Gang Reduction Assistance for Saving Society's Youth), and the new "901 BLOC Squad" Program (Better Lives, Opportunities and Communities).

On April 4, the noon luncheon will feature keynote speaker Eddie Charles Spencer, a former inmate who helps youth by sharing his story of how he turned his life around after incarceration.

On April 5, a morning youth panel (9:15 a.m.) will capture children's perspectives on youth violence, followed by a noon luncheon featuring James Garbarino, Ph.D., a nationally known expert on causes for youth violence, the coping mechanisms of victimized youth and methods for rehabilitating them. Dr. Garbarino is an author and professor at Loyola University Chicago.

Additional speakers include: District Atty. Gen. Amy Wierich, Mayor A C Wharton Jr., John Aitken, former Shelby County Superintendent of Schools, Dorsey E. Hopson II, Esq., Interim Superintendent of Memphis/Shelby County Schools, and local law enforcement experts.

FOX 13 news anchor Mearl Purvis will be on hand Friday, April 5, to set the tone for the day's youth safety presentations.

The conference is open to everyone, with organizers pitching it as especially helpful to parents, teachers, athletic coaches, principals, law enforcement experts, juvenile counselors and community members interested in the reduction of youth violence and the emotional well being of youth who have been exposed to violence.

For tickets to the "Assuring Safe Futures for Our Children Conference" on April 4 and 5, visit http://thirdannualassuringsafefutures.eventbrite.com/#.  Agencies qualify for discounts – for every three tickets purchased, a fourth ticket is free.  Agencies should contact Gwendolyn Wright at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  for instructions.

To learn more about Memphis City Schools' efforts to support youth safety, contact Ronald Pope, MCS director of Student Engagement, by emailing him This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling (901) 416-6295.  Citizens may also visit the MCS Department of School Safety, Security & Emergency Management website at http://www.mcsk12.net/ sssem/.

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