STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) – Statesboro’s Mayor Jonathan McCollar held a call to action meeting Friday night following the death of a teen in the city.
The mayor and community members came together to grieve the loss of 16-year-old James Mikell Jr. The teen was found shot at Luetta Moore Park on Saturday.
Mayor McCollar said this is the second summer in a row the city has lost a teen, and at the meeting, ideas were brought up to try and prevent this from happening again.
” The first thing we gotta do is get that low hanging fruit by engaging the young people in their communities where they are now. That’s going out and simply knocking on doors talking to people one family at a time,” Mayor McCollar said.
But, McCollar acknowledges that by simply having a larger community presence in the areas where some kids or teens need it, won’t change the minds of the youth overnight. They have to be ready to fight for change, for however long it may take.
” For the long term, we have to implement a strategic plan that’s specifically for our young people within our community… Do what needs to be done for us to be able to make sure our community, is a community, where we have a safe space for our young people to come,” Mayor McCollar said.
Part of that safe space includes an initiative to start a non-profit organization to facilitate services for young people in the community. Some of these services include being able to help kids and teens get into programs for free during school breaks or other times, to keep them occupied and out of trouble.
The mayor mentioned that to start this non-profit they’ll need thousands of dollars which they plan to raise over the next 12 months.
Also, during the meeting teens addressed adults. Sharing the pressures they face and the help they need to overcome it.
“We are innocent, we can fall into like stuff like gangs, violence and drugs, and all that so I mean if we want something to change we’re going t have to speak up ourselves. They can’t speak up for us,” said Joyrdan Williams.
Mayor McCollar said the plans discussed will take some time to implement, but they are a good first step towards change.