May 18-A group of Springfield students gathered at the School of Innovation on Tuesday as several community members spoke about the realities of gun violence with the goal of urging young people to take action.
The conversation is part of a larger effort to address that issue in the community and reach students who may have been impacted directly or indirectly by that type of violence.
Many of the students at the assembly on Tuesday indicated that they knew someone or have been impacted by gun violence themselves.
The event on Tuesday featured several speakers, including Stephen Massey, who oversees the trauma recovery center at the Springfield nonprofit CitiLookout, Dion Green, who witnessed the killing of his father during a mass shooting at Dayton's Oregon District in 2019, as well as a detective with the Springfield Police Division.
Green said that it is important to reach the youth in the community because they will become future leaders who can help implement real change.
He said that it is also important for him to share the experience of losing his father and all of the complex feelings that go with surviving a mass shooting so others may never have to feel his pain.
"All we can do is to keep educating and providing the resources for (the young people)," Green said.
The assembly at the School of Innovation followed a similar one that was held at Springfield High School earlier this year. The idea to hold these assemblies stems from a lot of students in the district wanting to do something to tackle the issue of gun violence that impacts many, said Martin Johnson, the district psychologist for the Springfield City School District.
Even though the assemblies have been planned for sometime, the prevalence of gun violence not only in the community, but in the country as a whole makes these types of events especially relevant.
A mass shooting this month in the southside of Springfield left one woman dead and four others injured. A mass shooting over the weekend in Buffalo, New York left 10 people killed. Other shootings reported over the weekend left even more people dead or wounded across the nation.
Johnson said that pain also hits close to home for many as the district has lost former students to gun violence.
"When we were at the high school, students were receptive to the message. A lot of students have been impacted by some of the senseless violence," said Johnson, who says those incidents can impact student mental health.
Some students have also reached out stating that they believe that gun violence is a leading cause of anxiety for some of their peers.
Green said that he hopes by sharing his experience it will help normalize conversations centered around gun violence and the grief and trauma it causes. He hopes these discussions will inspire more to take action.
The district plans to hold another assembly on Monday that will be focused on students at Schaefer Middle School. Green said that he hopes these assemblies will eventually transform into forums held by and moderated by students.