Buffalo Peacemakers help reduce tension, act as role models at charter school

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Tensions are rising among some teenagers in Buffalo during these last few weeks of school.

Community leaders told News 4 this week a girl was attacked at an NFTA Utica Station on her way to Health Sciences Charter School.

About half a dozen Buffalo Peacemakers are patrolling the school on Ellicott Street to help diffuse conflict.

“These kids just don’t fight fair, they have weapons,” said Tina Sanders, a senior Peacemakers. ”We just had a student get jumped the other day and they cut her, she has a concussion, she ended up at the hospital.”

Sanders said conflicts that often start on social media, boil over once the students see each other at school.

“We have gotten weapons at the corner, we have found guns in the bushes,” said Sanders. “Just think, if we didn’t find those things, if we wasn’t present on these corners from 2 o’clock to 4 o’clock what could possibly happen.”

She said some students are involved in gangs. They have all been affected by the 17 deadly shootings in Buffalo this year.

“They’ve lost some of their students,” said Sanders. “We’ve done prayer vigils here for some of their students.”

She meets one-on-one with at-risk students and their parents to help the teenagers realize their own potential.

“These are scholars, these are out future doctors, our lawyers, our judges,” said Sanders.

The work is all volunteer.

The partnership with the school started about four years ago when Peacemakers would attend school dances and athletic events.

“What we found is that the relationships begin to get built and we start to have connections with the students at the bus stations, at the train stations in the community, at the events,” said Dr. Hank Stopinkski. “The logical next step was to try to bring them into our school and continue those relationships to help students have more role models in the community.”

The Peacemakers have been at the school every day for the past four weeks. Dr. Stopinski said they hope that continues next year.

“These folks have a real intimate knowledge how the young people in the community work and we want the Peacemakers to be our mentors, to teach the new teaching staff about the community, about families,” said Dr. Stopinski.


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