ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) -Former gang members are using their stories of change to hopefully decrease violence in Albany.
Many speakers told their troubled stories on Saturday to empower Albany’s youth to steer away from violence.
“I just got out of prison 6 months ago,” one speaker said.
“I joined a gang when I was 15, I made a lot of bad decisions,” Quintaries Edwards, another speaker, said.
Jason Rogers said when he was younger, he made a choice to join a gang.
“It led me down the wrong road but as I got older, I made better choices and it put me in a different path, a path of elevation,” Rogers said. "No matter where you come from you can always make a difference and make a change in your life.”
The event, titled “A Fight to Better Our Community,” was held on Saturday at the Hilton Garden Inn.
The event was to bring awareness to violence in Albany and to brainstorm on solutions to prevent it.
Organizers said they believe a lot of the violence started in younger generations and the community is to blame.
They want kids to know they can create better futures for themselves.
“I don’t want to point fingers but I believe it’s the city and their a product of their environment, so what they see is what they do and I believe we need more here to do, here in Albany for the youth and I believe the community needs to play a part in helping us raise our kids,” Edwards said.
He also believes films and music can create false realities for kids.
Community members said love and coming together will help bring our youth away from violence.
"Cause believe it or not, our boys need more love from us than our girls and we got to hug them and kiss them and have to them you love them,” one speaker said.
Participants also spoke and shared their experiences.
Organizers said they hope to hold more discussions like this soon.