GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A new community initiative has emerged to help mitigate youth violence and hopefully save young lives. It was started by parents who are too familiar with witnessing a teen's life get cut short by a bullet that didn't need to be fired, they said.
Tori Lang's parents started the initiative after the 18-year-old was found shot and killed at Yellow River Park in Gwinnett County.
Since her death, her parents, Torrey and Teresa Lang, have been busy, working with several organizations to keep their daughter's name alive.
"I think it's imperative that victims of crimes of these natures remain active because sitting around thinking about it is going to really bring you down," Torrey explained.
Torrey shares more than just a name with his daughter. He also shares his hope to make the world a better place.
"My daughter isn’t here physically but she’ll always be here in the spiritual form," he said. "We want to prevent any other human being from dealing with this.”
Now, he and his wife are helping others through their new organization: the Kiwi Foundation. Kiwi was their daughter's nickname.
The foundation aims to decrease violence between teenagers by increasing communication between parents and their kids.
"There’s kids going through things that their parents never knew they were going through – which gives them a sense as if though they have to go befriend other individuals," Torrey said.
Tori’s family said they believe she considered the man indicted in her death to be her friend.
“You’ve got kids befriending strangers that they hardly ever know, not knowing the intention of these strangers," Torrey explained. "When you have kids embracing people that are not in their best interest, then you have situations that happen such as what happened with our daughter.”
Their work doesn't end there. Lang has also become involved with other organizations including TRC, or Truth and Reconciliation Conversations.
"It’s an organization addressing gender-based violence: violence against women and girls," explained Director of Civic Engagement for TRC, Calvin Ellison.
On Wednesday, more than 100 people of all ages and backgrounds gathered, at New Black Wall Street in Stonecrest to take a pledge against violence.
"This initiative today, we start with someone who has suffered but whose story is triumphant," said Founder of TRC, Khalil Osiris, who was referring to Torrey.
"That’s the message that we’re bringing to this: we, particularly as men, say that this violence will not stop until we as men hold ourselves accountable."
While the event took place Wednesday, the organization holds several events to help reduce gender-based violence.
Oasis said the group of men pledging to stop the violence is a step in the right direction as they're using their voice for those who had been silenced in the worst way.
"And now those same men who have been invisible in terms of advocacy now have absolute visibility in terms of action," Oasis said.
For Lang's family, that action starts with the Kiwi Foundation.