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Youth advocates want more positive investments after teen shooting at Towne East Square

Tracey Mason
Kylie Cameron
/
KMUW
Tracey Mason is also a member of a task force looking into the death of 17-year-old Cedric Lofton.

Their comments followed a shooting at Towne East Square last week that killed a 14-year-old boy.

Some youth advocates and city leaders say they have noticed a recent rise in crime and violence in Wichita involving young people.

Their comments followed a shooting at Towne East Square last week that killed a 14-year-old boy. A 16-year-old boy is in custody in connection with the shooting.

“These are things that occur in the neighborhood I’m in … ” said Tracey Mason with CHD Boxing. “It’s not a one-off. It just may be big news because it hit the (mall). It occurs every day for them.”

Mason owns a boxing club near Ninth and Grove in Wichita, which helps troubled youth.

“I went to the military, I went to college, and all those things,” Mason said, “but the things that was a cloud over my life was the street lifestyle and crime and drugs. That’s kind of what got me to the point to want to establish something in the neighborhood I grew up in.”

According to Mason, more learning centers and recreational activities can be beneficial for youth and keep them out of trouble.

“There’s slim pickings on something positive to do,” he said.

Mason also said just being positive can go a long way.

“Call ’em a name such as, judge or senator or, ‘Hey, CEO, how you doing today?’... when I see them I give them those types of names.

“So that makes them say to their self later on, ‘Hey, there was this old guy that called me a doctor or artist, and I wonder what that is and I wonder if I can do that?’”

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple expressed the same sentiment in a Facebook Live video the day after the shooting.

“We need to be taking this head-on. ... We’re in a position to make change,” Whipple said.

Whipple also spoke to his own experience growing up as a troubled youth in the video.

“Enough knobs got turned in certain directions so that I had a different outcome than the friends I grew up around,” he said,

Since the shooting, Mason said he’s helped some teens who were impacted by it process their trauma and emotions.

“I’m just trying to be a conduit … Let them know how they feel is their right to feel how they feel,” he said. “If they feel angry, if they feel sad, things like that. Not to feel desensitized by it, not to feel like it’s OK.”