ROCHESTER, N.Y (WROC) — Being a victim or even witnessing a crime can be a traumatizing experience, especially for teenagers. But do they get enough support and the proper resources afterward?
PrimeTime 585 feels many teenagers in Rochester can have bright futures, but when they witness someone get shot or hit by gunfire, it can have a long-lasting effect, making them more vulnerable to a life of crime. This Summer they’ve been determined to offer better guidance.
Those like Roderick Gray spent years being mentored by leaders with PrimeTime 585. Now in his 30’s, he volunteers at some of their events. After being shot when driving with his brother, he knows firsthand the long-lasting harmful impact gun violence can do.
“It did a lot to me,” Gray explained. “It caused me to do a lot of drinking, smoking, it caused me to do a lot of stuff. It made me stop playing basketball because I didn’t want to play basketball anymore because I didn’t want to be outside anymore. It caused me to shelter in the house, why would I be outside when it’s not safe.”
Since going through that, Roderick and those he grew up around felt pressured to always be on guard to stay safe. PrimeTime 585 Co-Founder Karen Iglesia sees this leading to unfair judgment from society. To not support troubled teens who need help.
“They can be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Iglesia said. “They will not give a black man the benefit of the doubt. So, it’s easy to have them categorized as bad people. A lot of the young black males with guns, they’re trying to protect themselves. They’re not trying to use it. I don’t condone that, but I do understand they don’t want to be victims.”
“Even the little kids carry a knife now,” Gray added. “Everybody is carrying something because they feel they’ve got to be safe because they don’t know who’s going to do what.”
According to the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office six of Rochester’s homicides so far this year have been those between 14-18 years old. While at least 30 between the ages of 3-18 have been shot. Because of this, Karen has expanded PrimeTime 585 Summer outreach.
“We had to start a little bit younger for PrimeTime because we were realizing we have to give them more things to do,” Iglesia told us. “We’re a big advocate that sports teach leadership, it teaches responsibility, it teaches you to set goals.”
Over the years, Roderick Gray has become one of many who found a better path in life thanks to PrimeTime 585 mentorship. Throughout the rest of the year, Karen and her team don’t plan to go away and will hold more camps or workshops to keep teens focused.
If you would like to get involved with PrimeTime 585, you can do so by logging on to their website or reaching out to leaders on the group’s social media platforms. Twitter: @PrimeTime585, Instagram: @primetime585, and Facebook: Primetime Ballers.