Fed up with seeing friends and family caught up in drugs and gun violence, some Harrisburg teens are stepping forward to try to become voices for change.
During a rally and march Tuesday, the students talked about issues like drug use in their homes and violence among young people.
“I grew up in a house that did drugs, and I just want to give back to the community. I want to tell the community that…not everybody (has) to be a victim to drugs. You can rise above,” said William Rosario, a high school senior. He said when he was little, his parents did drugs. Eventually, that would lead to him being placed in foster care along with his brother.
But, he said he was determined to be drug-free.
“Honestly, I just don’t want that anymore. I don’t want that anymore. I want to see a positive Harrisburg,” said Rosario.
Officer Jennie Jenkins, who works with the teens, said they’re part of the Drug-Free Communities Youth Sector.
More than 100 community leaders and fellow students attended the event and marched along Market Street.
“We’re a city that has a drug problem, and we have kids that would like to help,” said Jenkins. “There’s more of us than there are of them. There’s more of us not doing drugs. There’s more of us that are not committing crimes.”
The goal is for the teens to take their messages directly to the community in an effort to impact people directly. Rosario says one of the main challenges is hearing a lot of talk but seeing little action.
“We need to stop saying we want to do this. We need to put it into practice,” said Rosario.
Shae Basehore, another student involved in the group, said her goal is for her younger siblings to have more positive role models who aren’t afraid to speak up.
“My brothers are younger, and they’re about to enter high school. And, I don’t want them to go through all this drug and alcohol violence, craziness,” she said.
Basehore said the teens will take their anti-violence messages directly to elementary and middle school students. They’re working on programs such as skits and demonstrations.