Beloit walks to stop violence
Volunteers to accompany students on routes home after school
BELOIT, Wis. — The Beloit community is putting its best foot forward with the start of a new initiative to protect the city’s youth.
The new group goes by the name “BRAVE” and is exercising the name by walking in the neighborhoods where frequent violence has been reported to show the community around them that there is strength in numbers.
Regina Hendrickson, BRAVE co-founder, said the group formed after the recent string of violence this year that resulted in seven homicides during the spring and summer months.
“Something needed to be done,” Hendrickson. “I haven’t lost hope. I know that it can get back to what Beloit use to be.”
Hendricks and other community members are looking to stop the violence and protect students in the area by putting one simple word into action, BRAVE.
“We will be in the trenches, we will be where these events are occurring and letting people know that our presence is there,” she said.
The operation’s name BRAVE stands for “Beloit residents against violence everywhere.” The new community group made up of parents, college students and local residents who volunteer their time to walk students home and to youth centers after school Monday through Friday. It’s their way of showing the community strength and peace despite the recent violence.
“It’s seems like a really simple, basic concept but so many things can happen to a young person on that route from school to their home,” said Marc Perry, Director of Community Programs, Community Action.
Community action in Beloit is partnering with the group to help raise awareness to recruit volunteers. The group is targeting two neighborhoods; Hackett and the Merrill community where an elementary school is located just a block away from Summit park where one of this year’s homicides occurred. Volunteers will wear shirts with the group’s name on them and walk in groups of at least three volunteers at all times.
“The real concrete tangible change is going to happen and is happening because of people in the community,” Perry said. “Not agencies, not organizations, not the police department, not the city. Because people in the community are stepping up and saying we really need to do something about this.”
It’s a step in the right direction for a community demanding change and one looking to protect their youth.
“We want the students to feel like they have someone that they can talk to, that they can walk with. A lot of them are afraid to walk in their own neighborhoods and that’s sad. We want to be able to have them feel comfortable in their homes, because this is their home.”
All volunteers will have to undergo a background check. The program’s first walk is scheduled Wednesday.