In an effort to curb violence in Rochester, Pastor Britt Pledger, of Jesus the Christ Church, has created a new program, as part of his organization “Stop Kill’n, Start Chill’n,” in order to teach behavior modification training to city kids, through the church’s Youth Assistance Committee.
Pledger said the program will target pre-teens, ages 9 to 13, using a program called A.R.T., which stands for Aggression Replacement Training, and will contain the following three components: social-skills training, anger control, and moral reasoning.
In addition, the pastor said the program will use structured behavior modification workshops, as well as group activities such as modeling and role playing, in order to re-create situations which may potentially cause tension and controversy among youth.
“Working with a lot of the survivors and victims of homicides, often there’re a lot of children involved,” said youth assistance committee coordinator Ronaldo Eugene Pledger. “And, a lot of the values kids get, are values they’re mimicking from their environment. So, what the pastor wanted to do was try to find a way to reach back to some of the survivors’ children, siblings, etc., and see if we can find a way to give them an outlet for any of the frustrations they may have.”
Ronaldo said the kids will also learn skills like how to express a complaint, and positive decision-making methods through the program.
In addition, he said, although the mayor’s “Clergy on Patrol” program will likely help reduce some of the inner city’s violence, it will be grassroots efforts like Pledger’s which will have the most lasting impact.
“Coming from the inner city, a lot of our people are skeptics,” he stated. “Often, when you have mainstream clergy, they’re out of touch with the kids. So, you might have a band-aid effect, where, it’s like, the word may get out in the community, and then they tend to move away or hide. If you’re involved with a religious organization, or any group, it should effect some type of change in your life. I think they have to get away from some of the more renowned people, and find some of the people these kids speak to on a day-to-day basis. I think even knocking on doors and asking people may help.”
Ronaldo said the church has also been seeking donations to sponsor a trip for the organization to the “Standing for Peace and Justice Rally” at the Lincoln Memorial June 6, in Washington, D.C.
Mothers in Charge, a Philadelphia-based community group, has organized the rally.
The organization has recently worked in partnership with Pledger’s church in support of nonviolence.
“Hopefully we can bring some people from Rochester to the rally,” Ronaldo stated. “Mothers in Charge– these women– they’re galvanized. Anybody of goodwill, they don’t care what nationality you are, what your religion is, or your sexual orientation. If you feel that homicide is a plague, and we need to do something about it, then they are willing to work with you. As a result, they’ve gotten some momentum. And, God is telling us we should bring some people to this event, because it will definitely be impactful. We might affect some change in the city. We have no choice but to try.”
However, although the church has been seeking sponsors to help the church’s members make the trip to the event, Ronaldo said the response has been minimal.
“I’ve watched the pastor fax 70 organizations and get two responses,” he stated. “We were trying to get clergy to sponsor one of the survivors, or somebody of their own choosing; so we put up flyers for the event. And, we thought, churches who have vans, maybe they could use their vans for transportation to the event. We’ve figured out it’s approximately $80 per person to get to D.C., and back, from what we’ve calculated. We’re not asking anyone to give “Stop Kill’n” anything, what we’re asking is whether people can assist in some sort of service to the group, in order to help facilitate us getting to the mall. But, really, the reason we’re asking is because we want to raise your awareness. Even if you don’t donate, maybe you can at least get the word out.”
Anyone who may be interested in attending a “Stop Kill’n, Start Chill’n” meeting, or making a donation to the program can visit the church’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/StopKillnStartChilln for additional information.