NAMS News for Nov. 1

On Oct. 23, North Augusta Middle School students gathered for a special assembly aimed to educate young people on gang awareness. The speakers, Mr. Devon, Mr. Yanique and Mr. Leo, experts in gang awareness, shared their own personal experiences in a way that spoke to the students. They discussed many important topics such as what gangs do, how they recruit new members, the tragedies associated with gang violence and what to do if you are involved in a gang but want help. The presentation also included real-life examples of gangs and gang members including news articles and photos, which really hit home with many of the young people in attendance. Another element of the program focused on gang crime and the consequences of being convicted of gang-related crimes. Overall, the main point was simple: "Gangs - don't join one!"

The speakers scored a touchdown with this very real presentation. They were serious enough that students got the point, but they did use a small dash of humor to keep our young people involved and interested. Gang awareness is an important topic, as the number of children and young people getting caught up in gang activity is growing at an alarming rate, even here in "our own backyard."

Mr. Devon repeatedly emphasized that being in a gang is like "being a fish out of water." A young adult may think it is "cool" and gives the member some sort of power, but really, as an individual, these insecure young people ultimately suffer from an identity crisis. Gangs prey on this weakness. The people trying to lure children and teens into gangs act like they care about them, support them and feel their pain, but really they just want another scapegoat to do their "dirty work."

Gang participation is dangerous and often results in injury and, too often, death, not only to gang members, but sadly also to innocent bystanders. This presentation was educational and one that definitely will make students think twice about the paths they choose in life. The speakers will be back this spring to present additional information about gang awareness. Based on what we heard and saw on Tuesday, it will definitely be though-provoking and life-changing.