NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The pandemic, social and economic disruptions, and more guns on the streets:
It’s the formula for violence that has surged across the country and here in Hampton Roads.

According to a recent analysis by The New York Times, recent mass shootings, defined by a shooting in which four or more people are shot, are an ominous harbinger of what the summer months could bring.

Layers of dysfunction that include generational poverty, unemployment, and underemployment have also set the stage for a portion of today’s violence, according to Dr. Antipas Harris, who is the founder of the Urban Renewal Center in Norfolk.

“There are some systemic and structural issues that go back many, many years that have landed us in this so-called perfect storm,” said Harris.

There’s hope for a sea change. In a 15-week program, Impact Youth Arts, housed at Trinity Presbyterian in Norfolk, Harris and his team will use dance, theater, and even boat building to set fourth through seventh graders on the right course.

“These are some areas we believe will help children for more constructive emotional development. The research shows when kids are involved in the arts, they tend to do better in their life when it comes to work, crime, development in school, and career development,” said Harris.

10 on Your Side has profiled Dr. Harris in previous stories that highlighted his efforts, as a former Theology professor, to help the youth of Hampton Roads.

Regina Mobley: “Who owns this problem?”

Dr. Antipas Harris: “This is all of our problem and we all have to be part of the solution.”

The Impact Youth program kicks off April 4, 2022. Two dozen students identified by The Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority and Norfolk Public Schools partners have preregistered to attend the 15-week program.

Harris says there’s plenty of room for additional students to participate in the program. For more information call: 757-500-4747 or email info@theurcnorfolk.com.