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Church helping fight gangs

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POSTED: March 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Gangs were the focus of a seminar at Bethel AME Church.
It was the first of many community awareness seminars the church plans.
The March 1 seminar delved into the growing problem in Hinesville, Liberty County and Fort Stewart. It focused on the rising problems that gangs pose in our communities and schools, and what we can do to combat the problem.
T'Challa O'Bryant organized and hosted the seminar. Speakers included Det. Doug Snider and SPO Kyle Larimore from the Hinesville Police Department, Brenda Reddick from the Department of Juvenile Justice, Sandy Williams of the Youth Challenge Academy on Fort Stewart, and a former gang member.
Snider and Larimore presented a PowerPoint presentation on how to recognize gang activity and the history of some larger gangs. They also officers gave information on warning signs if a child is involved in a gang.
Snider said, "It is great to see the church stepping out to help with this problem and it is going to take all of us to reach out to these kids and offer them other options in life before they get involved with the gang lifestyle."
One of the most important things, Snider said, you can do to deter your kids from getting into gangs is to know who they hang out with and where they are going, and to develop good communications with the teachers and the schools.  
Reddick gave information on how the Georgia's Juvenile Justice System works and some statistics on the juvenile offenses in Liberty County.
Williams, with the Georgia National Guard's Youth Challenge, spoke on how the program operates and some of the activities cadets partake in.
At the end of the program the special guest gave first hand knowledge of being in a gang because she is a former gang member herself. She shared some of her life experiences and reiterated a lot of the points the other speakers had made.
The Rev. Richie Williams, Bethel's pastor, said, "It is time for us as Christians to take a stand on issues that effect our community and our children and that we cannot be afraid to address these issues."
Regina Mims from the Fort Stewart Family Advocacy Program was recognized for setting up a tabletop setup up and all of the brochures they provided for the seminar.
Williams said Bethel will have more seminars of community interest throughout the year.
 

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