LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- From 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Cherri Lasley helps students stay focused on their NTI courses inside Canaan Christian Church.
Once schools closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the church shifted to an NTI camp and halted its Dare to Dream Academy.
In the midst of shootings and homicides on the rise in Louisville, local churches and individuals like Lasley are trying to curb the violence by focusing on younger generations. Just 12 days into the new year, the city has seen 11 homicides.
"We know that there is an education gap out here. We did not want the children to lose their skills, but we also wanted to keep the children engaged. We know what could happen when children are home alone. Parents have to work," Lasley, who is the director of children and youth ministries at Canaan Christian Church, said.
Lasley said the goal is still the same, to feed children's minds and keep them out of trouble.
"When we lift them up and give them confidence I really do think we change mindsets," Lasley said.
The faith community is working to change mindsets by also teaching kids life skills, conflict resolution, and ways to cope.
"Just today I had a student that knew someone who had been killed last night," Lasley said. "Your fear for them is what drives us to help them."
Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center and the Life Development Corporation are also working to create positive change with a new NTI hub.
"When people have opportunities, when they have access to education, when their whole community is lifted up you see a decrease in violence and so we want to be a part of that," LDC Committee Chair Dr. Angelique Johnson said.
Community leaders say outreach programs could have an even bigger impact with more resources, but for now they are doing what they can to help solve issues their communities are facing.
"People end up in situations that are violent because of lack of access to resources. Because of all kinds of access to health care and things like that, and so education is key to that," Johnson said.
Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center says it hopes to have the NTI hub up and running by March.
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