DRIVE TO SAVE KIDS’ LIVES

Tampa Bay Times - - Local - STORY AND PHOTO BY JAMES BORCHUCK Times Staff Writer

ST. PETERS­BURG — Tanyga John­son walked door-to-door through the Childs Park neigh­bor­hood on a mis­sion.

She stopped to preach to two men sit­ting on a porch.

“This is about get­ting those weapons out of chil­dren’s hands and putting books in their hands,” she said.

They of­fered “yes, ma’ams” be­fore they high-fived her and agreed to let her place a yard sign.

“Now we are rolling!” she yelled. John­son, from the Rock of Je­sus Mis­sion­ary Bap­tist Church, was cham­pi­oning a cam­paign called “Not My Son.”

The goal is to make African-Amer­i­can males be­tween the ages of 12 and and chil­dren to pro­grams such as Co­hort of Cham­pi­ons and Arts Con­ser­va­tory for Teens.

The Rev. Kenny Irby, com­mu­nity in­ter­ven­tion di­rec­tor with the St. Peters­burg Po­lice Depart­ment, said city lead­ers wanted to stop the vi­o­lence. The ap­peal to par­ents, he said, is simply “how can we help you?”

St. Peters­burg City Coun­cil chair­woman Lisa Wheeler-Bow­man said par­ents some­times don’t know where to turn. That’s where vol­un­teers like John­son come in.

In Childs Park, John­son held up the yard signs to pass­ing mo­torists and en­cour­aged them to honk.

She was plant­ing seeds, she said, and now “we will watch them grow.”

Tanyga John­son en­cour­ages mo­torists in St. Peters­burg’s Childs Park neigh­bor­hood to honk in sup­port of her cause.

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