The University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine is launching a new youth violence prevention program. Stewart Giddings is the director of YouTurn and their Dusk to Dawn Program, known as D2D, is aimed at at-risk youth between the ages of 13 and 19. He says, “YouTurn is a violence interruption program, our focus primarily is actually gang involved adolescents and young adults and that’s what our primary focus is as an organization.”
All of the participants come to the hospital once a month for a two-and-a-half hour class. Dr. Charity Evans is an assistant professor at UNMC’s Department of Surgery and coordinator of the D2D program and says participants may be gang members or kids who have dropped out of school or been skipping classes. She says, “Our goal would be to reach the kids that would benefit most from this, and some of those kids are going to be in detention centers and in the courts, so I think for them to actually be in that atmosphere, to feel how warm it is in the trauma bay because we have to keep our patients warm, to see all of the machines, all of the equipment that it takes to try to save someone’s life I think has an impact to say this is real.”
The class starts in the trauma bay and then to a conference room for an open discussion. Giddings will share his story of being a gang member in New York City during the 1990’s and seeing his best friend get shot and killed. He will then talk about how to turn a life around. He says, “Violence is a health issue. You have to treat it the same way as you treat any transmittable disease. It’s truly a learned behavior that is transmitted from individual to individual.”
The first class was held on April 26th. Classes will be once a month between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. D2D is a collaborative effort between Nebraska Medicine, the Omaha Police Department, the Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands and YouTurn.