LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Dozens of eighth-graders at Lexington Traditional Magnet School went home with books and clothes for participating in One Lexington's "We are ONE" anti-violence poetry and essay contest.
Local clothing boutique Oneness partnered with the city to provide gifts for students.
Lexington Traditional Magnet (LTMS) teacher Sarah Thorton's 8th grade English class of 13, 14, and 15-year-olds were prompted to write about their experiences and feelings about violence in Lexington.
"It's a lot worse if you don't get shot because now you have to live with it, and it hurts," wrote student Wilson Bronson.
Lexington Police is investigating 29 homicides this year so far. That's on pace to surpass the record the city set in 2020. Mayor Linda Gorton started the "One Lexington" initiative to address the violence, especially among youth.
The goal is to tackle deep-seated trauma and prevent violence before it starts.
"It's not normal to lose friends to gun violence and hear gunshots every night and if we can get them truly believing that and speaking on that and being active and being a part of the solution, I believe in the long run and maybe even in the short run, it'll help reduce violence," said Director Devine Carama.
The poetry gave students an outlet to express their pain and frustration. The gifts they received on Wednesday were to celebrate their efforts.
"There is no one button you push to stop the violence. It literally is an all hearts, all hands-on deck and so for us, we're thinking of preventative ways. We don't want to wait until after somebody is shot," Carama explained.