From the Source: This McKeesport teen wants to talk about gun violence. Change can happen, she says, if adults will listen.
What happens in a community when teen gun violence becomes the norm? On the latest “From the Source” podcast episode, host Jourdan Hicks explores that question with Brandi Cox, an eighth-grade student at McKeesport’s Founders’ Hall Middle School.
Though she’s still a young teenager, Brandi began volunteering last year with Young Voices Action Collective — an organization that elevates youth voices about community needs, social justice issues and upcoming elections, while also helping to meet the basic needs of the community.
“YVAC is a youth-led organization that feeds the homeless and helps house kids and young adults off the streets,” Brandi tells Hicks. “We also build power in lower-income housing communities.”
As she grapples with the issues facing her community — especially the crisis of gun violence — Brandi is focused on solutions. Her goal is to “get a whole bunch of McKeesport kids together and talk about this,” she says, “‘cause things ain’t going to get better in McKeesport if this kind of stuff keeps happening. So I really want people to actually sit down, listen to what we’re saying and actually talk.”
But even as she’s working for change, Brandi’s spirit “is often dampened by the violence in her hometown of McKeesport,” Hicks says. “Since the pandemic, she says she’s noticed a shift in her peers that’s reverberating throughout the city and affecting the way residents interact with one another.”
Hear more about Brandi’s experiences — and her ideas for tackling this problem in our region — in this episode of “From the Source.”
Listen right here: