Brooklyn organization helps teens use visual arts to stop gun violence

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CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn — A grassroots movement in Brooklyn has been inspired by teens wanting to end a culture of gun violence.

Dozens of teenagers are using their love of visual art to get an important message across.

Daniah Lewis and Senthia St. Jean had their first day of interning with the organization, “Youth Organizing to Save Our Street" on Tuesday. The organization works with Crown Heights youth interested in making a difference.

“There’s other ways and things you can do to keep yourself out of danger. And if you do have a conflict, there’s other ways to resolve that,” said Lewis.

Heather Day help runs the program.

Day's work here focuses not just on discouraging gun violence, but conflict resolution and deescalation techniques.

“For a lot of our young people, violence has become part of their environment, part of their norm," said Day. "We ask them about violence, and almost all of them say something from middle school,” said Day.

At YO-SOS, finding ways to avoid picking up a gun is a lesson the teens embrace with pride.

“Arts are a way to process that. It’s not as direct as me asking you to describe the scariest moment of your life. But if you have a chance to write a song, that’s a foot in the door. And that’s exactly one of our young men said. He was in a hip-hop group, and said he saw a young man shot in the chest. And he said, that could be me, that could be my friends. And that’s exactly what he channeled into his verse,” said Day.