FORT MYERS, Fla. - With 15 murders already this year in Ft. Myers, an annual event gathered teens, community members, and local role models together in an effort to promote education, safety and values.
"We just want to send a message to the teens that we know what's going on out there and they need to stop," said event organizer, Shirley Kearse.
Shirley and her nephew, former pro football star, Jevon Kearse, are on a mission to curb the violence in the Dunbar community by talking to teens and giving them positive role-models.
"The important things in life. Just the importance of staying in school, the importance of not being violent," said Jevon.
The former NFL Defensive Lineman says he's concerned about the growing violence he sees in Ft. Myers, the place he grew up.
"I can't still fathom why all of this is going on here. I thought we were evolved and I thought Ft. Myers was growing up and getting better. But it seems like it's backsliding," he said.
More than 250 teens showed up to the Stars Complex for their annual lock-in to promote a night of safety.
"My goal is to keep them safe for one night," Shirley said.
The kids were prepared to ask community officials how they can help turn things around in their community.
"What can we as kids do to stop the violence?" asked NAACP youth volunteer, Tyler Mouzon.
Gerri Ware, an advisor with the NAACP says positive change begins at home.
"Values. Family values. It has to come from the family then permeate through the community. In our culture, we have to learn how to take better care of ourselves," Ware stated.
Chaperons will keep the teens locked-in and entertained until Sunday morning at 6 a.m. when their parents will come pick them up.