Standing up to promote nonviolence in Freeport

Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 10:25 PM CDT
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FREEPORT, Ill. (WIFR) - The city of Freeport issues a call to its younger community members to help create a safe place for everyone by turning away from crime and violence.

This “Stand Up” community awareness forum is a partnership between Freeport Mayor Jodi Miller and the YES Club to create better students and leaders in the city.

Dee Sanders attended Thursday’s community awareness forum after the YES Club spoke at her church. She says the violence in Freeport is too common.

“Safe is not what we have right now,” says Sanders. “I actually had an intruder at my door. They were shaking handles in the neighborhood.”

Sanders says there was no harm to anyone or anything, but it was a frightening experience.

“At the time I had girls in my home. They were scared. We all sat quietly in one room until the officer came.”

That’s why non-profits like the YES Club are established: to promote non-violence and abstain from crime so we can live in a worry-free environment.

“Our kids are afraid to go to school, but at the same time we find a lot of young people who are also being the ones that are bullying, and they’re also the ones that are doing some of these heinous crimes,” says YES Club Education Director Dianna Cole.

Cole says it’s heartbreaking to hear about the ongoing violence in the community.

“Even if it’s a situation where we may not know that child in particular, but just the fact that it’s one of our youth. It’s something we definitely want to get serious about putting an end to.”

She hopes the powerful workshops and activities the club offers will transform area youth into community leaders and attendees agree.

“It’s good to know that we have that in our community,” says Sanders.

Sanders not only has kids and grandkids, she’s also a foster parent. She says when her kids go out, she’s always calling them to make sure they are safe.

The YES Club was established decades ago. They say in order to make people say no to violence we have to make young people stand up, first.