LIMA — De’Oshanic Petaway has seen enough gun violence to know it has to end.
The young woman, 16, knows five individuals in her family who were shot and killed in the streets of Lima, and even at her young age, she knew she had to do something about it. She approached Councilman Derry Glenn with an idea two years ago during the funeral of her cousin — let’s get people talking to prevent another death.
Since then, she has jumpstarted an anti-violence organization called CeaseFire Lima, organized dialogue between youth and police and became the deputy mayor for the Lima Junior City Council, which she helped establish.
This weekend, she’ll be in Cleveland speaking at a Youth Philanthropy Summit event as one if its featured speakers.
But even with recognition from Youth Service America, she doesn’t want to stop there.
Petaway has seen the guns that may be doing the shooting this summer. She has talked to individuals her age — her neighbors and peers — and has tried to get them thinking about where their lives are headed. She has heard young men talk about the anger inside of them. And she knows something has to be done to prevent further violence.
“I don’t want to see my community fail. I want it to be something,” Petaway said.
As summer approaches, she plans to get ahead of the annual uptick in violence that usually comes with higher temperatures and start the necessary conversations.
That means organizing block events, going door-to-door, working with the city’s government and police department and educating other teenagers — anything that might prevent another death.
“It’s going to be hard. I’m not going to stop until I see something done,” Petaway said.
Both Glenn and CeaseFire Lima Director Vickie Shurelds are fine with Petaway and other teenagers taking the initiative to stop the violence. They’ve both worked with Petaway since she was 14, when she first made it clear she wanted to help.
Instead, they’re looking to help connect Petaway with the right resources, such as funds, places to meet and connections with the city. Like Petaway, they just want to get ahead of the curve.
“We know that the summer is coming,” Shurelds said. “We’re worried because that’s when it begins.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.