By Jane Stoever
Aim4Peace received the Kris and Lynn Cheatum Community Peace Award at the PeaceWorks-KC Annual Meeting March 1. The award recognizes a community group working for peace and justice. It honors Kris and Lynn Cheatum, the heart and soul of PeaceWorks and its predecessors from 1982 until Kris’s untimely passing in 2010.
Dave Pack, the PeaceWorks treasurer, presented the award for Aim4Peace, represented at the meeting by Rashid Junaid. Aim4Peace has operated since 2008 within the KC MO Health Department, striving to reduce shootings and the violence epidemic in the city. “The program particularly attempts to reduce retaliatory violence,” said Pack, noting Aim4Peace strategies such as using street intervention workers and violence interrupters, and using hospital responders where injuries are treated and further violence might occur.
“Last year 150 people died from violence in Kansas City,” said Junaid. “One-third of those deaths were people under 35. That’s our future going out the door.” Thanking PeaceWorks for the award, Junaid explained that Aim4Peace seeks to change behavior and educate people on how to resolve their conflicts without violence.
Junaid asked the PeaceWorks members and friends, “You know how you have a spill at your house, and the faucet is on, right? So you first turn the faucet off, right?” Those at the meeting agreed. “You’ve got to turn the guns off, turn the violence off,” Junaid insisted. “You don’t just go clean it up. You clean it up after you turn off the faucet.”
Junaid added, “We need more behavior change in our city. We have to educate our young people about how to solve these problems. We have to be able to remove the guns that are flowing into our city—a gun show every week—and talk about how we’re feeding the violence, not turning off the violence. We don’t need more police. We need more peace!”
Junaid gave homework to his PeaceWorks listeners: “Make sure you let your City Council know you want these programs refunded! I want things that turn off the faucet. I don’t want a clean-up crew.”