OAKLAND (KCBS) – The California Wellness Foundation presented their annual California Peace Prize on October 10, 2013, to some of the state’s unsung heroes who have done tremendous work to promote peace and prevent violence.  This year one of the three recipients of the honor and $25,000 prize was Bay Area native George Galvis.

An Oakland resident and nonprofit leader, Galvis has been working to empower at-risk youth to become future leaders.  This mission is a very personal one to him as he himself was one of those troubled youth in the streets who was formerly incarcerated.

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KCBS’ Connie C. Kim talks to George Galvis:

In 2010 when the city of Oakland issued its first gang injunction, George was a leader in ‘Stop the Injunctions,’ which successfully prevented the gang injunction from being fully implemented.

“Through research we knew gang injunctions were not effective in reducing gang violence,” Galvis described.  “A gang injunction … essentially is a civil action that has criminal consequences… there’s [no] burden of proof or benefit of legal counsel .. but there are criminal consequences.”

After they were successfully able to ‘stop the injunctions’ his nonprofit, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice or CURYJ pronounced “courage,” was born.

Through CURYJ, he partnered with local business leaders and elected officials to invest in opportunities, resources and services to address root causes of problems for low income families.

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Galvis was drawn into the streets at a young age after witnessing domestic violence at home. He spent time incarcerated.   Now, Galvis motivates young people by providing healthy alternatives to crime and violence.

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Recently, Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo pushed for a curfew on youth under the age of 18.

“I think a lot of that kind of strategy such as curfews are once again quick fix solutions that don’t really translate into solutions.  It’s reactionary,”  Galvis commented on the issue of implementing curfews.

“It doesn’t go to root cause.  [We need to] provide viable employment and educational opportunities for them and growth that will address the root causes and help create a healthier community here in Oakland.”

Galvis emphasized his belief that “every young person was born as a blessing with a gift and if we don’t help unwrap that gift to share with the world then we’re really shooting ourselves in the foot in terms of achieving the goal of healthier individuals and families and communities.”

His advice to the community is to “keep an open-minded heart, don’t stereotype about individuals, give people an opportunity to change and become part of our community.  If you treat people in a sacred manner slowly but surely they’ll start behaving in a sacred manner.”

For more information on the California Wellness Foundation’s California Peace Prize and all the award recipients go to www.CalWellness.org.

Find more interviews in the KCBS Community Corner.

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