Rather than trying to stop the violence, the goal of an international advocacy group in Pleasantville is to start a peace initiative that seeks a change in community attitude.
The Peacekeepers Global Initiative, which has been in Atlantic City for about two years, will open a Pleasantville chapter, resident Vernon Muhammad said.
A meeting is being held today to let residents voice their concerns and opinions about the neighborhoods.
The initiative works by targeting troubled neighborhoods and spending “an hour of power” per week in there “until it changes,” Muhammad said. “There has to be a paradigm shift in the thinking of the community.”
The effort will make it easier to focus energies on a positive purpose, rather than attempting to barricade or stop the violence, he said. “We are not trying to stop anything.”
Instead, the group, which has chapters in the United Kingdom and 11 U.S. states, including New York and New Jersey, aims to start a new idea and encourage families to feel more comfortable in their own neighborhoods.
“It is a Community Action Plan designed to help keep the peace in a community that is plagued by crime and gun violence,” according to the group’s website. The plan includes establishing new rules of conduct for young people to govern their lives.
Muhammad gave the example of the Back Maryland neighborhood in Atlantic City. After spending an hour each week in the community and talking with the residents, the group began to chaperone a play hour.
Children came out to play games and sports, and adults in the neighborhood became more comfortable knowing that there was a chance for their children to enjoy a safer environment, he said.
The goal is to create a similar atmosphere in Pleasantville.
“We depend on everyone, including local businesses and the residents,” Muhammad said.
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