MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Sunday was the kick-off day for a week-long of festivities for Youth Prevention Awareness week in Mobile.

The celebration began with a prayer service at Mardi Gras Park. Community leaders and locals filled the park, as they prayed for an end to youth Violence in Mobile.

Mobile Police Department Youth Preventions Coordinator Josh Jones says Youth Violence Prevention Week is the agency’s way to allow the youth to express themselves all while having fun.

“Youth Violence Prevention Week is the combination of the efforts that were set forth that promotes a home environment that is sustainable,” said Jones. “I want the youth that there are people out there that genuinely care. I want to engage with them, I want to hear their concerns, and I want to hear their fears, you know, I want to know what they want to see in the community.”

The prayer service was filled with music, entertainment, as well as words from several guest speakers. One guest speaker, Dequel Robinson used this opportunity to tell young people his own personal story, in hopes it will encourage them to change their lives for the better.

“In 2008 at the age of 21, I was shot seven times, and I was actually left for dead for an hour and a half,” said Robinson. “By the grace of God, I was able to reach into my pocket and call 9-1-1, I’m telling my story in hopes that it can see what can happen or worse when it comes to gun violence.”

Other events in store this upcoming week include several community engagement days and a Stop the Violence Back to School Rally. These efforts were created in hopes of reaching the youth in Mobile to remind them they are seen and heard.

“People don’t get that opportunity, a second chance,” said Robinson. “It’s all about coming together as a community, getting the youth involved and letting them know we see them, we want them to put the guns down.”

For a list of events, click this link to MPD’s Twitter account. It’s part of the city’s effort to curb youth gun violence.