Ten-year-olds Demevlo Moorman and Artice Boone know about the "killings" in Lexington.
"People need to stop being followers," Boone said. "They need to be leaders."
Moorman and Boone talked about the shootings, the deaths and the fights they know happen in Lexington. Determined to be leaders, the two quickly scurried off to eat a hot dog and continue playing basketball at Imani Baptist Church Saturday.
The boys were there for the "Let the Kids Grow" program put on by the Lexington organization Sisters and Supporters Working Against Gun Violence or SWAG. More than 300 kids and their parents signed up for the event held at Imani Baptist Church.
In hopes of inspiring kids and parents into changing their community, organizers invited hip-hop star Percy Miller, otherwise known as "Master P."
Miller played basketball with the kids and described a personal story of violence he witnessed growing up.
"Education saved my life," Miller said. "It's about helping kids find out how to make better decisions."
According to Lexington police crime statistics, there were 19 murders — some involving young people — in 2013. There were also 13,412 arrests in Lexington of which 829 were juvenile cases.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray attended "Let the Kids Grow" to endorse and support the message program leaders were trying to convey.
"We need to reach out to young people in an intentional and deliberate way," said Gray, who is running for re-election against challenger and former city police chief Anthany Beatty. "We care, our community cares, your parents care and the faith community cares."
Girl Scouts, the Lexington Police Activities League and Mom's Demand Action for Gun Sense in America were a few of the groups helping out and offering services to families. A Fayette County Schools preschool teacher discussed the benefits of enrolling children in Early Start programs and encouraging them to continue learning.
Of the advocacy organizations at "Let the Kids Grow," one group of women understands gun violence all to well. The women of SWAG have lost their sons to gun violence.
Tonya Lindsey, president of SWAG, talked about the importance of educating children and providing them with the necessary tools to avoid violence. Lindsey said it's not just a single community suffering from the consequences of gun violence — it's all of Lexington.
Lindsey lost her son, Ezavion, when he was 16-years-old. He was a junior at Tates Creek High School."I was very involved in things (Ezavion) did, whether it was sports or his education," Lindsey said. "I know that I did what I could have for my son. Even though he still fell victim, at least I gave him the tools he needed."
Lexy Gross: (859) 231-3335. Twitter: @lexygross.