TEDx Macatawa 2015 Session 1d: Willie J. Watt Jr., Deliberate Collaboration

  • lived in a violent time in Chicago
  • in a gang at 11 years old
  • wanted to be a lawyer but told he would be dead at age 16
  • enjoyed riding ‘L’
  • watched best friend get murdered
  • shot 3 times by age 13
  • kicked out of house by age 17
  • moved to Holland
  • gangs started showing up in Holland  in 1980s
  • 1998 – African American families had been firebombed in Holland
  • 2007 lost wife, kids, home, homeless in parking lot of church
  • gave life to Christ and learned of a Father that loves him no matter what
  • found purpose: to be a servant and give back
  • we all come up with wonderful ideas that might change lives and we file them away rather than having the courage to try them out and collaborate with others
  • in confusion ideas are grown and people can make good changes when presented with a choice
  • Holland Youth Connection – Summer job connection where work would happen for 10 weeks and have kids from rival gangs work together http://www.escape-out.org/- the youth take ownership of the community
  • 76% drop in crime rate with implementation of the work program
  • 2nd year had 7 different gangs, ethnicities, and schools came together
  • “When we give kids an opportunity they can change the community”
  • Take the time to get in their lives to help them become who the want to be and who they can be
  • “Are you going to go out there and do something and take a step forward and make a difference?”
  • “We have to start taking chances on other people”
  • “We can change the world”

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