Rev. Smith is hoping to expand the South Pittsburgh Coalition for Peace’s efforts and obtain additional grant money.By Jessica Guay

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A violence prevention organization recognized several young people for their accomplishments, in hopes of combating youth violence in Pittsburgh.

Reverend Eileen Smith isn’t giving up on her efforts to prevent youth violence in South Pittsburgh. As the executive director of the South Pittsburgh Coalition for Peace, she looks forward to sponsoring the annual Dare to Dream Youth Session each year.

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“Our goal is to decrease youth violence, give them something to look forward to, and work towards,” said Rev. Smith.

Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith presented awards to several kids and teens for doing positive things in their lives.

(Photo Credit: KDAK)

Outstanding youth recognition awards went to young people from The Way Organization, Voices Against Violence, Lighthouse and Growing In God. A special youth sports award was also given to the South Side Bears football team. Their team has overcome a lot after witnessing a deadly shooting right outside of its stadium in the South Side Slopes in July.

“This lets them know you can do better; this is an alternative to fighting in schools and youth violence out on the streets. This lets them know we honor you, we love, and we are here to help you,” Rev. Smith said.

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Two college scholarship awards were given in memory of two teens who became victims of gun violence. Elarrah Saunders, 18, had big goals before she was shot and killed in Wilkinsburg nearly one year ago.

“Beautiful, beautiful girl, she wanted to go to school to be an EMT. I just miss her a lot,” said Ebony Saunders, Elarrah Saunder’s mother. “It just lets me know that God is still in control because that was always what she wanted to do, help someone, be an EMT. And now even though she’s gone, it’s like she’s still giving.”

Izeyah Clancy, 17, had his future taken away from him when he was shot in May in the city’s Allentown neighborhood.

“He loved music, he loved his family, he was just my good kid,” said Earlene Clancy, Izeyah Clancy’s mom. “I just want people to remember Izeyah as a smiling kid, happy, quiet, just respectful.”

In the ninth year of hosting the Dare to Dream event, Rev. Smith said more needs to be done to combat violence and to continue to help kids reach their dreams.

“We have to stop this youth violence. It’s a youth pandemic of violence and it is a national pandemic of violence, and we really have to put a stop to it. So everyone needs to get involved, parents, especially churches, organizations, schools, businesses,” she said.

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Rev. Smith is hoping to expand the South Pittsburgh Coalition for Peace’s efforts and obtain additional grant money. The organization wants to increase street outreach, which its peacemakers do in city neighborhoods every day.