Woodruff seniors write book hoping to heal community from gun violence

Seniors at Woodruff Career and Technical Center
Seniors at Woodruff Career and Technical Center(Gray)
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 6:47 PM CDT
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - Five students at Peoria’s Woodruff Career and Technical Center are spending their last few weeks not only studying for finals, but working to publish a book. It’s about helping teenagers deal with the affects of gun violence.

Peoria saw 34 homicides in 2021, its highest number ever.

All five of these seniors, Dina Brown, Ariadna Carachuri, Lyric Johnson, Tylynn Johnson and Taya Bates grew up in different neighborhoods throughout Peoria, but they all share something in common.

“We see a lot of people that we know personally being taken away by gun violence,” said Woodruff senior, Dina Brown.

After Peoria’s record breaking number of homicides in 2021, their criminal justice instructor, Lisa Snow, assigned them to write a novel about dealing with the grief of a homicide.

“There’s not a lot of literature for teenagers for how to deal with homicide,” said Snow.

The novel is written by teenagers for teenagers through each of their experiences with grief. They combined their cultures and lives into the story.

“We’ve just lived in a community where we hear gunshots, we hear the violence. It hurts us, but we know that it’s kind of normal here and it shouldn’t be that way,” said Woodruff senior, Ariadna Carachuri.

The character in the book, ‘Legends For My Brother’ goes through the five stages of grief after having a family member killed.

“We just want people to know you’re going to go through things, you’re going to feel pain, you’re going to maybe even feel alone, but you’re not,” said Woodruff senior, Lyric Johnson.

They are also hoping this book can make change in their community and reduce gun violence.

“We’re putting our time and energy into trying to heal our community,” said Woodruff senior, Tylynn Johnson.

“We need to make a change in our community for the better,” said Carachuri.

The students are in the final stages of the 70-page book and are working to get it published.

“I want this book to be wide, spread around the country,” said Woodruff senior, Taya Bates.

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