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'Barbershop Talks': Indiana Pastor Seeks Solutions to Gun Violence


One Indiana pastor says he won't stop looking for ways to combat gun violence in his community.

Kenneth Sullivan Jr., senior pastor at New Direction Church in Indianapolis, told WRTV News that it's important to teach people, including children, how to resolve their issues without becoming violent.

"I've had the unfortunate task of burying children as young as 12-years-old from gun violence," Sullivan said. "Even 11-years-old males and females, adults, and children due to gun violence and it stays with you. So, I began to collect the obituaries because I've done so many." 

Throughout the month of May, New Direction will host "Safe Streets" seminars for kids ages 12 to 18. The lessons focus on conflict resolution, making choices, image and respect, and public speaking. 

Earlier this year, the church introduced an initiative called "1150 Academy" where students received training in areas such as coding and cyber security. 

Months later, there's still a demand for the program which Pastor Sullivan is trying to widen in an effort to reach more young adults, WRTV reports. 

"I may not be able to stop every case of gun violence. We may not be able to see all of this turnaround, but if we could just help these young people who are within our reach, we're making a difference in our lives," Sullivan emphasized.  

He continued, "When we see acts of violence and we see people resort to using weapons to resolve conflict. It can always be something that's discouraging, but I stay encouraged and understanding." 

And New Direction plans to continue having "Barbershop Talks" with the hope of getting teens and community leaders to come together and discuss different problems they're facing.   

In March, a group of young people gathered at a barbershop on the city's east side to discuss a recent tragedy.

Sullivan pointed out that with the summer months ahead, there's even more of a risk for gun-related violence. The pastor is hopeful that families will encourage their children to take advantage of the programs.

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