Anne Arundel County — which has pursued innovative ways to reduce gun violence — is partnering with the Chase Your Dreams Initiative on a weekend of events aimed at engaging with and educating young people about the problem.

The dialogue on Saturday and Sunday will focus on the causes of gun violence and promoting solutions that help create safer communities, according to the Gun Violence Prevention Celebrity Weekend website.

“I’ve seen firsthand the work Chase Your Dreams Initiative is doing, and they’re saving lives in Anne Arundel County,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to partner with Chase Your Dreams Initiative and Live! Casino and Hotel Maryland for the Youth Gun Violence Prevention Celebrity Weekend so we can continue to raise awareness on gun violence, create dialogue around conflict resolution, and reduce crime in our communities.”

Anne Arundel County and the Chase Your Dreams Initiative are partnering on a Youth Gun Violence Prevention Celebrity Weekend on March 9-10, 2024, at Old Mill Senior High School in Millersville. (Anne Arundel County)

Chase Your Dreams Initiative is a nonprofit organization that addresses various needs to improve the quality of life in communities throughout America, according to the website.

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The event is taking place Saturday and Sunday at Old Mill Senior High School in Millersville.

The Gun Violence Prevention Celebrity Weekend is the latest county initiative aimed at combating violence. The county passed a law in 2022 requiring gun dealers to distribute suicide prevention and conflict resolution literature. Earlier this year, Pittman and the county health department announced a targeted anti-violence intervention program in Annapolis.

Black males ages 15 to 34 comprise only 2.4% of the county population, but they account for 38% of resident firearm homicide deaths, according to the 2022 U.S. Census American Community Survey. That’s why organizers consider events such as this weekend’s to be an important part of their effort.

The two-day event will feature celebrity guests including former NBA player Donté Greene, rap artist Lil’ Flip and rap artist Stalley. The event will be hosted by Wallo and Gillie Da King from the “Million Dollaz Worth of Game” podcast.

Events include a presentation on the underlying causes of gun violence, “Stop the Bleeding” training that teaches youths how to render aid in an emergency, and a teen summit where children and parents can participate in panel discussions and workshops led by mental health professionals. There will be a celebrity all-star basketball on Sunday as well.

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“I want to commend County Executive Steuart Pittman for making this initiative a top priority as we work together to combat gun violence as a health crisis in our communities,” Kyle Williams, CEO of the Chase Your Dreams Initiative, said in a statement. “I would like to thank our partners who stepped up to show our community that they stand with us and join us in making Anne Arundel County a better space for the development and growth of our future leaders. We must continue to listen with the intent to learn and create community initiatives that align with what our youth and young adults are saying that they need.”

Other sponsors include the city of Annapolis, Shore United Bank, DTLR and the Anne Arundel County school system.

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Royale Bonds attended Southern Illinois University. Go Salukis! She previously worked as an affordable housing reporter in Greenville, South Carolina. Royale enjoys long naps, snacking and endless scrolling on social media. She looks forward to reporting on Anne Arundel County and covering the stories that matter.

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