Set against the backdrop of sadness, great debate and urgency, one group is taking bold action to stop gun violence among American youth — a fast-moving and poisonous trend. The Kings Against Violence Initiative (KAVI) based in Brooklyn is a hospital-based, school-based and community-based organization that provides young people with safe alternatives to interpersonal violence by empowering them with knowledge and activities that highlight their potential.
KAVI views the issue of interpersonal violence through a unique lens. Rather than positioning itself as an anti-gang program that condemns this aspect of communities around Brooklyn, KAVI understands that this is often a necessary association for many young people’s survival. Instead of combating or denying these negative truths directly, KAVI provides services at the point of impact to victims and works to create positive influences that sway youth towards a brighter, violence-free future.
These positive influences are at the heart of KAVI’s theory of change and form the foundation of all programming efforts. KAVI aims to provide its program participants with increased self-esteem and confidence, positive role models and goals, awareness of opportunities outside of traditional gang life and the courage to pursue those opportunities. KAVI’s prevention and intervention-based programming consists of weekly workshops and activities built around the following themes: identity exploration, self-governing, conflict resolution and communication, peer mediation, goal development and critical thinking, life skills development and fitness. Currently, KAVI operates programs at the High School for International Arts and Business and the High School for Public Service.
The Kings Against Violence Initiative’s approach to its message and programming stems directly from the real life experiences of its Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Robert J. Gore. Dr. Gore was raised in Brooklyn and now works as an emergency room physician and clinical assistant professor at Kings County Hospital/SUNY Downstate. Through Gore’s life experiences living in many large cities and working as an emergency room physician in both Chicago and New York City, he witnessed firsthand the gory and severe effects of youth violence. The high number of patients that would come back as repeat victims really struck him. Dr. Gore made the decision to use his direct contact with this issue, and subsequent in-depth knowledge of its roots, to work on reversing the paradigm.
Since that moment of enlightenment, Dr. Gore has never looked back. KAVI is poised to make an immediate and long-lasting impact on communities throughout Brooklyn, eventually growing to include other counties, cities and countries where youth face similar interpersonal violence. To learn more about the vital work of KAVI, make a donation to support their efforts, or to volunteer with their programs to prevent youth violence, visit their website.
by Adrienne Rochetti, Co-Founder & CEO of Akimbo