Gangs topic of free youth seminar Saturday

Published 10:49 am Friday, October 7, 2011

By Stephen H. Cowles/Contributing Writer

FRANKLIN—Idle hands and minds are the devil’s playthings, and one of those toys is gangs. Rarely, if ever, are such groups known for being a constructive force in communities where they breed.

So to help keep young people of Western Tidewater out of such mischief, a free seminar will be held 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Franklin to make parents and students aware of how gangs can drag individuals and neighborhoods down through crime.

The Youth Awareness Seminar is co-sponsored by the Franklin Department of Parks & Recreation and the Franklin Star Lodge 288 Prince Hall Masons Free and Accepted Inc.

Worshipful Master Woodrow Wilson, one of the event organizers, said the project is a group effort.

“We sat down and created one just for the community,” Wilson said. “This is the first of its kind. We’re trying to focus on the need to address a lot of gang activity that’s beginning to take place in our area and surrounding areas.”

Wilson said the city and Southampton County law enforcement officers will make presentations on logistics and information on gang numbers. Kent Grant from the Virginia Beach School System, and Robert High, an intelligence investigator with the Virginia Department of Corrections, also will speak.

If the event is successful, Wilson said he hopes a larger one could be conducted at Paul D. Camp Community College.

He emphasized this event is for the public.

“Come with an open mind,” Wilson said. “We need the parents and children to be there. Everyone else is an added incentive.”

On Saturday, the lodge took students on a tour of Virginia State University. This type of activity is something the members do frequently, he said, adding that a mentoring program should be established.

“A lot of kids are getting lost and then hurt neighborhoods (being in gangs). If you give them something else to think about and do, then you’re helping yourself as well,” Wilson said.

For more information, call Wilson at 556-3208.