YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — On Saturday, about 50 people gathered on Market Street for Youngstown’s “Stop the Violence” effort for this year, which kicked off with a press conference and prayer rally.

Mayor Tito Brown, several other elected officials and law enforcement were in attendance to have a conversation about ending violence in the city.

“Back-to-back we’ve seen violence, we’ve seen pain, we’ve seen little children being in crossfire and getting hurt and getting killed,” said Youngstown resident Lynette Miller.

Reverend Kenneth Simon with New Bethel Baptist Church is one of the leaders in the effort. He said it’s crucial that the city changes its culture to where violence is not tolerated.

“It appears as though we’ve accepted violence in our community as the norm, that it happens all the time. We hear gunshots every day, every night — and people have become desensitized to it,” Simon said.

The goal is to involve the entire community, not just one group or organization, and the campaign is multi-faceted. Reverend Simon said me last year they partnered with Youngstown Police Department to provide training for individuals interested in mentoring youth.

They’ve also provided mediation training and a messaging campaign where “Stop the Violence” signs were placed within the community. This year, the group will continue to offer that training, but they’re adding another component — parenting.

“These kids, younger and younger, are getting involved in violence — 13-year-olds, 11-year olds involved in the violence. Parents need support, parents need resources, parents need training,” Simon said.

Getting everyone involved in the conversation is key.

“We are the future. Regardless of where you’re at, how you grew up, regardless of anything — we are the future and if we’re constantly killing each other, there’s going to be no future,” said Lekeila Houser with Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past.

Sign up sheets are at New Bethel Baptist Church in Youngstown for anyone interested in getting involved or trained.