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Ending school shootings: Expert tells Gainesville parents peer mentoring is the answer

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Leadercast of Gainesville hosted John Williams Thursday, a youth-culture expert out of Alabama, to engage and spark the minds of the community on how to end school shootings.

"This is about investing in our children and they are our future,” said Jill Nash from Leadercast of Gainesville. “So I think he'll be able to create a conversation of something where we all can be a part of a solution."

Williams made everyone ask the question, "Would these kids be hurting themselves or others if someone made the effort to sympathize with them?"

“We’re looking for systemic change at just a base level that says ‘how can we intentionally be about others? How can we intentionally work to be in another person’s shoes,’” Williams said.

Williams’s pilot program in Alabama selected upperclassmen to pair with lowerclassmen to meet from time to time to simply talk about life: how’s their dating life? How do they handle social media? They share ideas and make sure one another feel known.

"We emphasize compassion and kindness and how we can serve one another,” Williams said. “It's others-centered. So the greatest person in the room is always going to be the person in the room that's taking responsibility for everyone in the room."

Williams says that through his pilot program of peer mentoring, there was a 96 percent reduction in student discipline referrals, a 20 percent rise in daily attendance, and higher test scores.

“We all have our opinions and if we could just have a discussion and learn to respect each other, then I think that’s the main reason we are doing this tonight,” Nash said. “Then we can have further discussion so we can actually do something and prevent school shootings in Gainesville.”Leadercast of Gainesville hosted John Williams Thursday, a youth-culture expert out of Alabama, to engage and spark the minds of the community on how to end school shootings.


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