POPP Selma Model
- First, we need buy-in from the Mayor, Chief of Police, and the City Council to lay the groundwork for our POPP Community Peace Initiative. Collaborative meeting is set with those parties.
- Next, we choose at least two rival high schools to launch the first round of our “Protect the Dream: 40 Days of Power” campaign. Twenty-four students from each school are chosen: twelve boys and twelve girls: athletes, cheerleaders, marching band, performing arts, student government and ROTC. Those chosen need to be leaders, both positive and negative; kids who have influence among all the main peer groups. At the conclusion of the eight-week Character and Leadership Development project, the standout kids create a student organization called the POPP Club that they take ownership of. They meet for bi-monthly inspirational meetings before school to involve and engage other kids from the student body. Kindness, inclusion, acceptance, and compassion are developed as we begin to reach the kids who are difficult to reach.
- We need at least two influential Pastors to agree to launch our “40 Days of Prayer” in tandem with the school campaign. In this way we will pull in the faith community and begin to provide positive support for the school project and what these kids are striving to accomplish.
- Next we involve law enforcement. Each week when the kids meet for their weekly POPP Squad meeting we will pull in officers to begin to bridge the gap between Cops and Communities. As officers share about their life as teens the kids begin to see the heart and humanity behind the badge, and the officers begin to see the kids in a positive new light.
- As we move forward with each new eight-week phase more schools are added, more officers are brought in, and more churches come on board. Momentum develops as we begin to see healing and develop unity among the oftentimes “Dysfunctional Triangle” of three local institutions in every community: schools, jails and churches.
- Working through connections in the community we identify influential players on the street: local gangs and sets. We respectfully ask for the blessing of those who are leading in a negative way, as we make them aware of what we are trying to accomplish in the schools. This method has proven very effective in our successful prison programs. Gang leaders begin to use their influence more honorably, and even support us, as we seek to decrease violence in their community. Mutual respect is key.
- We build a coalition of community leaders connected to the following areas of expertise: addiction and recovery, GED, Mental Health, Job Readiness, etc. In this way, we can point youth and families to experts that can help them get on track and stay on track. Recovery and restoration in the goal.
- From our home base in Atlanta, we begin to bring standout POPP All Stars on “POPP Freedom Rides” to the recovering city, and begin to convince them through our actions that they really DO matter. Selfless acts of service are the POWER behind the project.
- Lastly, we need local media coverage so that we can begin to tell a new story for a community that is wounded and beginning to expect the worst. We begin to shift public perception and get the community to become aware of the positive things that are happening, and public perception slowly shifts. Churches, Cops and Kids begin to work together to create sustainable positive change, and these groups come together through constructive, solution-based POPP Town Hall Meetings and Community Service Projects.