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Young Kansas Citians experiencing trauma from violent crime want their voices heard

In 2023, 100 Kansas City youth gathered for the Youth Ambassadors' Annual Teen Peace Summit to share ideas on reducing violent crime.
Lara Salgado
In 2023, 100 Kansas City youth gathered for the Youth Ambassadors' Annual Teen Peace Summit to share ideas on reducing violent crime.

Young people in Kansas City are feeling the effects of violent crime. Youth Ambassadors, a Kansas City nonprofit, is helping kids work through the trauma, build resilience and have a voice in their community.

Crime happens commonly in the Kansas City neighborhood where 16-year-old Sumayah Cooks lives.

"I don't feel very safe," Cooks told Up To Date. "I feel that everywhere I turn, something's gonna happen."

In 2023, Kansas City recorded its deadliest year on record.

"There's a level of secondary trauma that comes from living in communities where you can regularly hear gunshots going out, where police have to come and restore order because of escalating arguments that turn into violent situations," said Dr. Monique Johnston, executive director of the Kansas City nonprofit Youth Ambassadors.

Youth Ambassadors helps teach young Kansas Citians life skills including conflict resolution, resilience, job training and healthy relationships with the police.

"What we're trying to do is really surround young people with protective factors that decrease the likelihood that they will become victims or perpetrators of violence," Johnston said. "We talk about providing opportunities for young people to have their voices and their experiences validated."

Isaias Minton, a 15-year-old Youth Ambassador, plans to take part in an upcoming Teen Peace Summit aimed to uplift teen voices against violence..

"I want to make sure my voice is heard. And I want to make sure that the others are heard," Minton said. "I can inspire the youth; to tell them, like, you don't have to take a certain path."

Teen Peace Summit, 10 -2 p.m. Thursday, Jul. 18 at Mohart Multipurpose Center, 3200 Wayne Ave., Kansas City, Missouri 64109. Register here.

  • Dr. Monique Johnston, executive director, Youth Ambassadors
  • Sumayah Cooks, Youth Ambassador
  • Isaias Minton, Youth Ambassador
Corrected: June 26, 2024 at 4:29 PM CDT
This story previously misspelled the name Isaias Minton. It has been corrected.
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