City of Columbia hopes for 100 Days of Nonviolence - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

City of Columbia hopes for 100 Days of Nonviolence

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

The city of Columbia wants to keep it at 100 this summer -- 100 days without the sound of gunfire or street fights that so often lead to the loss of a young life.

"This is reality," said Dr. Germon Miller-Bey, coordinator for the RICH program. "This is not a video game. You don't get a second life in a violent situation."

RICH stands for Rebuilding Individual Character Habits. Miller-Bey walks the streets of Columbia to let teen males -- especially African American ones -- about the program that meets 5 days a week during the summer.

Miller-Bey's program teaches everything from legal awareness to vocabulary enhancement.

"They assist each other," said Miller-Bey. "That is something that people don't see African American young men doing. We talk about gangs and crews, but a gang is no more than a group of people who have to come together for a particular reason."

This summer, Miller-Bey wants the reason to be empowerment and broadening horizons.

"It's not the gang that commits, it's not the crew that commits the crime, it's the individuals that step out," said Miller-Bey.

The Summer Work Experience Leadership Program, or SWELP, is sponsored by the Columbia Urban League.

"It gives them an opportunity to earn money over the summer and I can tell you I remember when I got my first paycheck. I felt empowered," said JT McLawhorn.

Studies show young people who learn the value of work are 16 times less likely to be unemployed and five times as likely to be well-paid.

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