By Dylan Deprey
As summer vacation gives students an opportunity for some time off, it also offers opportunities for youth to make decisions: good and bad.
Teen carjacking’s began making headlines around the same time a year ago, and with summer right around the corner the Milwaukee Youth Council felt that it was necessary to educate their peers about the deadly consequences that can ensue.
The diverse collection of students on the Milwaukee Youth Council announced its #NoFreeRides PSA Campaign on April 12, 2017.
“It bothers me that this is the social norm on Facebook, we have to change the culture and change the statistics we keep adding to,” Kalan R. Haywood II, District 6 and President of the Youth Council.
The two video PSA’s show the students narrating two stories involving Milwaukee youth behind the wheel and in the backseat of stolen cars.
The first of which involved Michael, a kid who stole a car, picked up some friends and lost control going 80 mph eventually killing his friends. The second told the last hours of Jamal and Marquis’s lives before they hopped in a stolen car with their friend who eventually ran a stop sign running from the police and crashed the car.
The Youth Council created the hashtag #NoFreeRides to flood students’ social media with the life altering stories. The City Clerk’s office and Milwaukee’s City Channel helped create the PSA’s and rollout for the campaign.
Corina Estremera-Maldonado, District 12, said they wanted to utilize social media because that is how they and their peers stay connected.
“If a video of a cat can go viral on Facebook, then why not do positive peer pressure on an issue that really pertains to us as youth,” Estremera-Maldonado said.
She added that if youth had the pressure from their peers to instead say, “No,” to hopping behind the wheel or in the backseat of a stolen car would save lives.
“So, by doing this campaign it allows teens to really understand that the situation you’re getting put into is not one to be comfortable with and is not something any person should consider fun,” Estremera-Maldonado said.
Haywood II noted that many youth were under the impression they would not be chased by the Milwaukee Police Department.
He said that when inexperienced drivers fly down neighborhood streets in a stolen car the aftermath could be life or death for them or community members. He said that carjacking’s had a ripple effect that touches more than just the carjacker or the victim of the carjacking.
“We want to instill positive peer pressure because there is a lot of negative going around,” Haywood II said. “We really want youth to listen up because these are real-life stories. Joyriding and going to the mall may be fun, but when it goes wrong it has long lasting effects.”
Check out the PSA at https://www.facebook.com/mkeyouthcouncil/ and share the PSA on social media using the hashtag, #NofreeRides.