Creating Hopeful Opportunities and Resiliency by Developing Skills, better known by its acronym C.H.O.R.D.S., is hosting the “Stop the Violence” youth conference on Saturday January 10 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at their headquarters, located at 3041 N. Sierra Way in San Bernardino.
The organization’s chief executive officer Edwin Johnson said the conference aims to motivate youth to stay away from gang violence and change the current state of the city.
“The main reason that we decided to organize this conference is due to the violence in the community,” he said. “There are many people that conduct marches, demonstrations, and protests. What we’re really missing is the education. The questions we will go over are: how can we educate the community on ways to minimize the violence and how can we provide them with resources to find different ways to make ends meet without robbing or stealing. It’s important we equip the youth with tools they will need to transform our communities.”
Johnson believes the availability of mentors is one way to get youth away from gangs.
“If there were more individuals to provide kids with guidance and empower them, a lot of this violence wouldn’t be happening, “he said.
A young man that Johnson mentored was recently involved in the murder of a 15-year-old kid. The news devastated him.
“Unfortunately he was still caught up in the gang life,” Johnson explained. “He didn’t have anywhere to go after placement. He is now on trial, facing 25 years for the murder of another young man. In my opinion, behind this was the lack of mentoring.”
Johnson, a lifetime resident of San Bernardino, said the impressions of “being a man” and being “tough” is what motivates youth to go down the wrong path. He said he knows because his father at one point in his life tried to push him to be a “thug.”“I used to be a thug back in the day, but it was because of my father’s influence,” he said. “My father didn’t know any better because it was all he knew. That’s why the conference is important because the people who will be speaking will go over the importance of staying away from gangs and also informing them of different resources they can utilize.”
Young Visionaries chief executive officer Terrance Stone, who served 10 years in prison due to his involvement in gangs, will be one of the keynote speakers, along with Jose Rodriguez of Rialto Staxx, rappers Daylyt and Sevin.
The conference is open to youth of all ages and admission is free. To register for the conference, visit C.H.O.R.D.S. website, www.chordseyp.org or contact Edwin Johnson at (909) 658-9550.