An organization launched its new summer program for youth, and it’s focused on teaching them how to design and live a life that’s productive and free of violence.

Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children’s Trendy Trades program has different five week sessions including embroidery, interior painting, ASL, podcasting, and construction.

“We’re not just teaching them skill sets as entrepreneurs or trades. We are mentoring them on a nonviolent, safer community lifestyle,” said Malissa Thomas St. Clair, the founder of Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children.

St. Clair said her team used crime data to make sure they’re making the most impact and working with young people who will benefit from the program.

“We wanted to make sure we reach those youth who have a propensity to be a victim or an offender,” she said.

About 100 youth are taking part. ABC6/FOX28 stopped by the embroidery/entrepreneurship session, led by the owner of Uneducated Genius.

“It’s been a good experience,” said Zoey Johnson, an incoming high school freshman. “Everybody’s been welcoming and fun to talk to and have around.”

The program is part of Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children’s Under Triple Digits Initiative. They’re working to keep the number of homicides in Columbus this year under 100.

One of the participants, Jarael Straughter, lost his little brother and sister to gun violence in 2021. 9-year-old Demitrius Wall’neal and 6-year-old Londynn Wall’neal were shot and killed while inside a car. Jarael said they mean a lot to him.

“Always on my mind,” he said.

He hopes this program allows him to escape from his grief.

“It’ll get it off my mind, and I’m really into it because I really like to dress nice,” he said.

Zoey said it’s a chance to stitch her own story the right way.

“There’s been a lot of things that has pushed me away, trying to make it harder, but I try to call myself down, keep going, just keep trying,” she said. “If people find a program like this and they know it’s there, then it’s obviously easier for them to get help and come and do something.”

The organization is moving the needle forward, one teen at a time.

“It’s just safer for the community, for the children, for the city, because we don’t want people out here just potentially dying due to violence,” said Corey Johnson, an incoming 12th grader.

St. Clair said she hopes the students take what they learn and bring it to their schools to help other students.

The City of Columbus is funding the program.