Crowds turn out for Bikes Up Guns Down event
It was positivity on wheels as a community out-reach group tried to motor youngsters away from the lure of gang and gun culture by highlighting the joys of bikes.
The grass-roots Give Back Foundation held the event at Southampton Rangers Sports Club Saturday to showcase the delights of motocross.
One of the co-founders of the “Bikes Up, Guns Down” event, Makinday Johansen, said they wanted to show young people other situations.
He told The Royal Gazette: “We are plagued by gun violence right now, so me and my co-founders said ‘let’s do something positive for the community’.
“What better way than to bring the motocross bikes for the kids? Everybody gets a bike when they are 16.
“I can’t really say just Southampton, but every neighbourhood, they get focused on more for the bad than the positive - and there is a lot of positive that is actually coming out of Southampton, Warwick and Paget.
“And the gun violence, the negative, overshadows what’s going on. So, today is all about spreading positivity, bringing everyone together as one.”
Mr Johansen called for more community involvement from Government Ministers on crime issues.
He said: “I feel like they are doing what they can, but I think they should reach out to the people that’s actually in the community and have big support.”
Top local motocross rider Jonah Smith, 24, from Southampton, was on hand to talk to youngsters.
He told The Royal Gazette: “I’m involved to give a positive message to the kids, help them to stay out of trouble, and put a spotlight on on the motocross community in Bermuda.
“I feel like it is not as big as it should be, and I feel that if more people knew about it they would want to be a part of it.
“We are definitely getting a positive response here today from the kids.
“I feel that this is a good way to keep kids out of trouble - more than other sports, I feel like, personally.”
Asked if the Government was doing enough to tackle gun crime, Mr Smith said: “I don’t want to say that they are not doing enough because I don’t know what they are doing. But, I feel like they could do a lot more.
“There is always room for improvement about everything.”
As well as displays of motocross bikes, the event featured free food, sound systems and bouncy castles.