NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A community event in Norfolk is hoping to engage the youth of the community and prevent gun violence from happening.
Unity Day was held at Makers Craft Brewery and had a number of activities for the whole family, including bounce houses, food, and the main event-boxing matches.
Dominique Vaughan, who’s the CEO of Revolutionary Visions, says the boxing event Gloves Up Guns Down is aimed at giving people another way to solve their issues with others.
“We try to give them a platform and an outlet to squash and handles disputes,” he said. “We call it conflict resolution.”
Vaughn says the idea originated in 2017 but they’ve been doing boxing matches in his community since 2007.
“In 2017, we lost friends in the community to guns. We, as a collective group, would’ve rather fought. That fuel led to gun violence. Instead of retaliating with guns, we combated with a challenge to date to meet us in the ring,” he said.
It saved lives and Vaughan is hoping to pass that on to make sure the next generation lives.
“It made us feel better. We’re trying to transition for the kids to follow that,” he said.
Vaughan says they now have multiple gyms participating and are trying to incorporate this in different cities.
Jeffery Lewis, who’s the co-owner of Gloves Up Guns Down and owner of Culturification, which put on Unity Day, says the day was a combination of events he’s been a part of in his 30 years of life.
“To put on this event today where we have adults to give back in the manner, to have attractions for the kids to enjoy, no one did that for me growing up. I’m fortunate to have this and do that for them. I know the community will chip back in the future,” he said.
Lewis, who is a former college track athlete and former high school track coach, says it’s important to provide young people in the community an outlet like this.
“So many youth die from gun violence. In 2010 when I graduated from high school, this area was number one in the country for student-athlete death rates. People don’t understand you can’t live out your dream and make it if you get gunned down, or whatever the case may be,” he said, adding that people can’t give back to the community and achieve their dreams if they’re lost to gun violence.
Lewis says he’s using his business degree to give back and help out. Culturefication was started to help combat gentrification and is hoping more events like Unity Day will happen in the community.
“We’re not going to stop. This legacy of today, this will be something great,” he said.
For more information about Gloves Up Guns Down, visit their Facebook page.