Mayor Jim Marshall


1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

In the fall of 1997, a student at Westside High School in Macon, Georgia, Samarra Fordham, conceptualized TAVA in response to violence within her school. She was in tenth grade at the time. The Mayorís office was contacted by the school and invited to offer support and assistance to this student so that TAVA could be organized.

TAVA is a service organization which is designed to offer students an opportunity to take a stand for nonviolence while they provide varying kinds of community service. The organization was begun with sixty students from the founding school, Westside High, but it has expanded and currently there are chapters in all of the middle schools, the Georgia Academy for the Blind, one private middle school, and four of the five high schools. There are approximately three hundred members at the present time. These students have T-shirts which they designed along with a local T-shirt vendor and they participated in the Christmas Parade and the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. Many of the TAVA members assisted the Mayorís Youth Violence Prevention Task Force in a recent Funday where children were encouraged to turn in their play weapons as a ticket for admission into the Funday activities.

TAVA members serve as peer mediators in several middle schools, they help to promote nonviolence activities such as the Mourning Mothers March, bumper sticker and billboard campaign and they wrote and recorded public service announcements asking their peers to have a safe holiday during the 1997 Christmas season.

2. When was the program created and why?

It was created in 1997 in response to persistent expressions of school violence and disturbance from rival gang members who had been placed in Westside High School together.

3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?

It is measured by program increases, community involvement and the impact that the members are having on their peers.

4. How is the program financed?

It is financed through donations from private citizens who believe in the worth of the program, local businesses and the Mayorís Youth Violence Prevention Task Force.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

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