Dr. Ulric Johnson founded TAGV: Teens Against Gang Violence, a non-profit 501-3C in 1990, when he was Director of the City of Boston’s Department of Health and Hospital Gang/Drug Prevention Program. Through his local and national travel and presentations on gang/drug violence prevention, and his work as a diversity trainer and educator, Dr. Johnson saw the need to start a youth-based program.
His vision was to create a program that builds upon the positive aspects of gang and group membership: community, common goals, and a feeling of belonging. TAGV was to incorporate family involvement, personal achievement, peace and justice work, and to building a better community through service and above all, through love.
MYTH 1: Gang violence is only an issue for inner city youth of color.
MYTH 2: Any youth of color who wears a black hooded sweatshirt is automatically member of a violent gang.
MYTH 3: Youth of color are the problem and do not want to be part of the solution.
MYTH 4: Parents of inner city youth do not care enough about their children.
TAGV started as a volunteer, youth led community-based program located in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
We provided consultation, workshops, presentations and coaching on Youth Leadership Development, Peace and Justice Education, Cross Cultural Awareness, and Anti “Ism” awareness to youth service providers, as well as community- based organizations that provide services to youth and families.
Our hope was to promote the vision of youth as leaders by working to eliminate violence in all its forms, such as racism, guns, sexism, crime, homophobia, drugs and fighting. We strive to eliminate violence by developing our neighborhoods into healthier communities that strive for peace and justice.
The Mission of TAGV was to develop and support youth leaders by providing them with culturally appropriate knowledge, skills, tools and relationships so that they can educate others about a non-violent peace and justice life style.
The program was comprised of young adults, ages 11 to 20, and their families from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, who primarily reside in the urban neighborhoods in the city of Boston. Many members lived in single-parent households and were subject to the pressures of urban environments including gang violence, racism, drugs, guns, crime, and poor economic conditions. Children Against Gang Violence (CAGV), the sibling of TAGV, with members aged 8-12, and Parents Against Gang Violence (PAGV), the parents of TAGV and CAGV were established in 1994 as a means of providing support for the whole family. All three groups received trainings to be trainers and educators.
In 2012, the program focus was shifted toward providing mental health/counseling services to youth and families in Boston, creating access to presentations, workshops and consultation services to schools, communities and organizations. We hope to reach communities and families on the local, national, and international level.