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Violence Prevention Task Force seeks citizen participation

Date: 8/6/2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — The Mayor's Citywide Violence Prevention Task Force is looking for citizens and organizations to join in its collaboration.

The group met at a rally in Forest Park last week and included representatives from the Probation Department, Springfield ASAP, ROCA, Stop Access, the YWCA YouthBuild, the Springfield Parent Academy, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Shannon Grant program, among others.

Task Force member Gianna Allentuck explained that it came together for a rally in the park last year following the June 1, 2011 tornado.

She explained the task force has been in existence for 20 years and is now on "an upward trend."

The Task Force is currently seeking additional members so more resources can be pooled for its efforts to stop violence before it starts.

One of the group's recent initiatives is a simple one: walking. The members hope to have people in Springfield walking for pleasure or to work and greeting members of the neighborhood.

If people get to know their neighbors, Allentuck explained, "they are less likely to turn an eye [away] if something is going on in the street."

The Task Force is asking its members to encourage greater understanding and to prevent violence by challenging colleagues or staff members to support community service projects, pointing out to members of the press positive activities in the city, assigning interns to community service projects, and participating in the creation and implementation of task force initiatives.

The Task Force's programs include a youth boxing program, Mayor Domenic Sarno's neighborhood walks, a youth character development program, and Peace Week.

Allentuck said that new members are welcome to the group and could attend the next meeting. The Task Force will meet at 3 p.m. on Aug. 14 in the second floor conference room of the Springfield School Department, 1550 Main St.