CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Several speakers gave testimonies today on how crime and violence has affected their lives, and why it's important to have stronger role models in the community to better protect our family and neighbors. Founders of UPWARD, which stands for United People Working Against Random Destruction, say the idea for the group came after a series of crimes and violence in the Conway area left them no choice.
"There was one murder in particular, one of the last ones, it was a young lady named Kia. It was a home invasion. She got murdered in her home. That was like the last straw for us. We decided we had to do something. Everybody was talking. We were looking at it on the news. Everybody was saying 'that's a shame, that's a shame', but nobody was doing anything." said Brandon "D.O." Anderson, founder of UPWARD.
The gym was filled with parents and kids as several performers and speakers gave a clear message: to bring back a village mentality, where everyone looks out for each other. Other foundations with similar goals also came to the event, like the Peabo and Woolie Foundation, dedicated to educating and empowering those who have been victimized by abuse. Co-founder and two time Olympian, Amber Campbell about why they felt it was important to bring extra awareness to the issues.
"I just thought it was a great partnership to be able to come here and to spread the message of not only non-violence and making sure the community is bridging the gap to helping each other, but to spread the word about our foundation as well."
Anderson says UPWARD has received recognition from local political leaders as well as Horry County PD for their work in the community, and they will continue to push their message to put an end to the violence.
"Our theme with UPWARD is building stronger communities through stronger families, so that's our base, that's our focus. Focusing on the families, so if we make the families stronger, we make the community stronger."