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Who Is Saving Our Young In Baltimore

March 1, 2021

According to a news article in the Washington Post, “90 percent of all juveniles arrested in Baltimore are African American, but only 64 percent of the city's youth population is African American.”  In April 2019, the Baltimore Sun reported that while youth arrests were down in Baltimore, there were racial disparities and other problems in justice system.  The Youth Assessment by the Center for Children's Law and Policy reported, “Jurisdictions throughout the country have demonstrated that reductions in the use of incarceration and out-of-home placement, when coupled with investments in community-based services and supports, achieve better public safety outcomes at a lower cost to taxpayers — all while improving outcomes for young people and families in contact with the juvenile justice system.” 


So who is saving our young in Baltimore?  Kawahn Young, an African-American man, who was born and raised in Baltimore City, graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High in Baltimore City.  He became a Baltimore City police officer.  Today, Kawahn is a Baltimore County police officer, husband, proud father, and chairman of a 501c(3) non-profit organization called Saving Our Young (SOY) Baltimore.  The mission of the Save Our Young Baltimore organization is to use law enforcement officers, criminal justice professionals, and educators as facilitators to strengthen the character, and inspire change in the lives of the young.

We interviewed Mr. Young about him and his organization.


Why do you think this organization and its youth activities are needed?  I believe my organization and its activities are needed due to the lack of resources and after school programs for youth.  Also, with the growing tension between law enforcement, youth and community this organization is committed to a healthy dialogue and activities with police to strengthen the community. 


What inspired you to do what you do as a police officer and by starting a non-profit? What inspired me to start SOY is seeing mentees, local youth being killed on the streets of Baltimore.  The closing of recreation and PAL centers were another reason that inspired me to found this organization. Also seeing the decline in law enforcement and community relations was another motivating force to start this non profit.


Was there anyone who you consider instrumental in helping you be the person that you are today?  The instrumental people that help me be the person and officer that I am today, are my parents, grandmother, Officers Terry Graham, Edna Jones, Detective Dwayne Green and Sergeant Gloria Davis.


Are there any key people involved that are essential in getting the mission accomplished?  The key people involved that are essential in getting my mission accomplished I would say my friend/mentor Darren Rogers, my Board of Directors Kristi France-Gibbs, Paul Winfield, Erica Dunston and Stephanike Benson.


Ultimately, what is your personal goal or direction in the future for the organization?  Ultimately my personal goal for SOY would be to have a sustainable and effective organization that services youth in multiple facets of their lives.  Another goal would be to be an organization that has led the way in improving relationships with law enforcement and youth in the Baltimore area.


What events or activities have you done in the past?  Past events are Building Bridges Fall Bike Ride, Building Bridges Drive-In Movie, Community Clean Ups, Food & Turkey Giveaway, Bike Giveaway.    


On Saturday, April 3rd from 7:00 am - 12 noon, the Saving Our Young (SOY) Baltimore will host its 1st Annual Spring Bike Ride.  SOY, a non profit 501(c)(3), is committed to mentoring, and providing a safe place for youth in the community.  This event will involve community youth, adults, police officers, or other criminal justice professionals coming together for a 5 mile,  or 11 mile bike ride through the community, capped with fun activities for all.


The bike ride portion of the event will begin at the Security Plaza 1724 Woodlawn Drive 21207 and head north onto Woodlawn Drive, left onto Whitehead Road, right onto Dogwood Road, and continue down Dogwood Road into N. Franklintown Road.  The route will continue down N. Franklintown Road and to the turnaround point at Morris Road.  The route is approximately 11 miles.  For those who prefer a shorter route, they proceed down Dogwood Road, and will turn right onto Little Creek Drive.  The return route will circle Meadow Avenue and Sunny Lane, then back onto Little Creek Drive, and left back onto Dogwood Road.   


Registration will begin at 7:30 am, followed by a security brief at 8:35 am, and bike ride at 9:00 am.  The event will conclude with activities such as rock climbing, caricature artist drawing, and panel discussions.  


ADMISSIONS

  • Youth, 17 & under, with their own bicycle - FREE

  • (Early Bird) Adults 18 & up - WITH Bike Rental is $40.00+$4.06 Fee

  • Adults ages 18 & up - NO Bike Rental is $20.00+$2.85 Fee

Youth must register with an adult. Participants are responsible for their own bicycle.  Registration fees includes:  Dri-fit t-shirt, wristband & refreshments.  Participants must have a Maryland State ID for bicycle rental.  Sales will begin on Saturday, February 27, 2021.  There is a no refund policy.

This is a family friendly bike ride, with an effort to build a bridge between youth and law enforcement but is open to all.  You may bring your own bicycle or rent one.  This is a benefit to our community and all are welcomed.


For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.soybaltimore.org, or check out the event on Eventbrite by clicking here.  Please help spread the word.