The meeting at the Armory was facilitated by Bishop Lester Woods Jr. of Columbia Urban Empowerment Ministries.
Those in attendance brainstormed ways to promote nonviolence among the youth in Columbia through a proactive approach, education and employment.
Woods emphasized that the meeting was a community forum, and that he was hoping to start a long process of change. He did have an idea to start the change.
Woods proposed an event he calls "Silence the Violence," which would feature a march for nonviolence, a forum, and promotion of resources for youth of Columbia on April 28.
"I see April 28 as a kick-off," Woods said.
Forum participants also discussed ways to get parents more involved in promoting nonviolence in the lives of their children.
"We need parents to buy into this," said Demetria Stephens, assistant director of Job Point. "When kids see parents going back to school, working or at home with them, it's positive. It starts at home."
One suggestion was to create stronger parent and teacher associations and have them create a stronger presence in the junior high and high schools.
The group also talked about the need to keep kids busy and engaged.
"We need to take away their idle time and give them positive things going on in their life," Stephens said.
Attendees made suggestions on how to promote nonviolence among younger children, not just teens. Some suggestions included a mentor-mentee basketball tournament to promote good sportsmanship and lessen competitiveness that spills over from sports. Another suggestion was that conflict resolution should be introduced to health class curriculums in grade schools.
A sentiment that echoed throughout the meeting was the need to get young people involved in the movement. Another was that it will take a continuous effort beyond April 28 to fix the violence problem in Columbia.
"It feels like we got an inch tonight, but we need a yard," Woods said.