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Anti-violence Initiative in the Northeast Quadrant Aims to Connect with Youth

Waymon Daniels says he connects with kids on the street through humor.
Sasha-Ann Simons
Waymon Daniels says he connects with kids on the street through humor.

The Save Our Youth program is an initiative in the Northeast Quadrant of Rochester, aimed at reducing crime in those neighborhoods.

The idea is to treat violence as a public health issue, much like a pandemic that spreads through contact. Waymon Daniels is an outreach worker with Save Our Youth, a program through Action for a Better Community.

Daniels spends his days working with teenagers, helping them get to school, or probation, or social services. When he’s not trying to keep his kids on the right track, he’s canvassing the streets in a bright orange vest, looking to break up trouble.

"I use humor. With a bright orange shirt or jacket on, they look at you like, 'What are you doing?' And that's just something to get them to be engaged."

Daniels hopes that if he has a few minutes to connect with these young people, even though jokes, he might spark a conversation that could keep them from making the same mistakes he did. Daniels has four felonies, and spent ten years in prison.

Save Out Youth is based on the Cure Violence model out of Chicago. It's funded through state grant money on a yearly basis, and it's still in its first year of operation, but the program's supervisors say they think it's already making a difference.

To date, the Northeast Quadrant has not seen any killings by shooting, compared to this time last year when there were already three. Shootings are also down by half.">

Veronica Volk is a senior editor and producer for WXXI News.
Sasha-Ann Simons joined the team at WXXI News in 2015 as a Multimedia Reporter/Producer. She tells stories about the innovation economy and technology in upstate New York and also does general assignment reporting. Sasha-Ann is the host of Arts InFocus, WXXI-TV's weekly arts and culture program. She is also a fill-in host and regular contributor to Need To Know.