Since 1991, Youth Alive! has been trying to break the cycle of violence in Oakland through prevention, intervention, healing, and advocacy. Paris Davis is the intervention director. How would you describe Youth Alive?
Paris: Youth Alive! is a violence prevention agency that is based in Oakland, and we provide a multitude of services to support victims of violent crime and to prevent violence.
Lisa: You grew up in Oakland and went to Skyline High School. You were on track to play basketball professionally, then what happened?
Paris: To make a long story short, I was shot, and it derailed my basketball career forever. The best-kept secret, Youth Alive, reached out to me and offered me services, and I was forever moved. So, after I got through my healing journey, I reached out to them and started here as an intern.
Lisa: How would you say Youth Alive helped you after you were shot?
Paris: Letting me know that my story is powerful and can positively affect people. I would also say the resources that they were able to provide me, the trauma-informed care, just certain questions that they asked me. When I was at the hospital, I was treated as if this was supposed to happen to me. And Youth Alive didn’t ask me anything about what happened, just how can we help you? And I think that’s something that stuck with me.
Lisa: So what would you say is happening in Oakland right now when it comes to violence? And what is Youth Alive doing about it?
Paris: I would say I think what’s happening in Oakland is a sign of a lack of resources. It’s hard times for everyone, and people are just trying to feed their families. So, what Youth Alive continues to do is utilize the resources we have to create a better space. That’s showing up, being trauma-informed, not victimizing individuals who have already been a victim of community violence and just helping them in different ways that they need. I think what makes us unique is that we’re very innovative in those approaches.
Lisa: What can people do to help?
Paris: Continue to donate. Continue to spread the word. Shout us out on Instagram. Help us to not be the best secret in Oakland.
Lisa: What do you want people to know about Youth Alive?
Paris: That it is a very diverse group and a lot of people here are actually from the community or similar communities, and we all have a similar background. I think that’s one of the things that helps us make a difference, is that a lot of us actually still live here in Oakland. So we also still see and feel what’s going on in the community.
Lisa: Paris Davis, thank you.
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