COLUMBIA, Mo. – A woman whose brother was killed by gun violence 21 years ago is working to put a stop to the recent string of shootings in Columbia.
Erica Dickson led an event at Douglas High School Saturday afternoon, focused on starting conversations with children in the community.
She said the recent uptick in gun violence in Columbia bring back memories of the loss of her brother, “When things like this spike in the community that I’m in, it does take me back to my 14 year-old self, and the feelings of the grief and sadness that I felt at that time.”
The event, “Time 2 E.A.T. (Experience as Teachers),” invited youth to come and hear from community leaders and men with past experience in prison in an effort to steer kids away from crime.
The kids were also asked what can adults do to help. Many children mentioned school, family, and after-school programs.
Dickson believes adults need to create more safe spaces for kids to talk about their feelings and what they need.
“We don’t create a space like that for our kids enough,” Dickson said. “Whether it’s in the family setting, you know, a lot of us don’t eat at the dinner table anymore but just in the car on the way home, just asking your kids how was your day, what happened today, how are you feeling about what happened today.”
One girl in the crowd said that she feels scared for herself and her brothers because of the recent shootings. Dickson then brought up her brother to the crowd.
“I was able to make a connection with her,” Dickson said. “When I was 14, my brother was murdered, shot and killed, so being able to make that connection and have that experience … it wasn’t a surprise, and we are just able to have that dialogue.”