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This mom leads young people on walks in the woods to prevent and heal from tragedy

July 28, 2017 at 6:20 PM EDT
In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, Boston’s inner city often sees a spike in violence during the summer, when many students are out of school and on the streets. But as special correspondent Tina Martin from PBS station WGBH reports, one mother is trying to change that leading young people into nature.
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NewsHour shares web small logoIn our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, to our NewsHour Shares, something that caught our eye that we thought might be of interest to you, too.

Boston’s inner city often sees a spike in violence during the summer, when many students are out of school and on the streets.

But as Tina Martin from PBS station WGBH reports, one mother is trying to change that trend by exposing young people to the outdoors.

TINA MARTIN: Amid trees, chirping birds and rugged rocks, it wasn’t always easy to do, but Judith Foster smiles as she leads her group on a three-mile walk through the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton. The walks are part of her HERO group.

JUDITH FOSTER, HERO Walks Creator: Healing, empathy, redemption, oasis.

TINA MARTIN: Foster started the walks as a way to heal from her own tragedy.

JUDITH FOSTER: About 8:00 in the morning or so, I got home from work, and that was the news I got home to, that my son had been murdered.

TINA MARTIN: Four years ago, Judith’s youngest child, Paul, a senior at a college in North Carolina, was shot and killed at a nightclub, just few weeks before he was set to graduate with a degree in computer science.

Paul’s murder is still under investigation. But during her time of loss and grief, Judith says she found solace in walking the Blue Hills.

JUDITH FOSTER: He had a love of nature, and I thought by being doing this, being close to nature, I would be close to him.

TINA MARTIN: So, every Saturday, she invites people to walk with her.

BAKARI JOHNSON, Boston Resident: We have to do something to break the cycle, break the mold. Nobody would think is something that would be fun at the end of the day. You think nature walk, you are thinking, oh, come on, this is some tree hugger stuff. But, at the end of the day, anybody can do it and anybody can enjoy it.

TINA MARTIN: Twenty-five-year-old Bakari Johnson uses the walks to get away from the noise of the city. He hopes to keep walking all summer to stay away from trouble.

BAKARI JOHNSON: It is a worry, but, personally, I feel like I have been not just lucky so far. I feel like part of the reason I’m still here is because I have also been smart.

JUDITH FOSTER: And don’t be afraid to touch the trees, the leaves.

PASTOR MARK SCOTT, Co-Chair, Boston Youth Violence Reduction Task Force: It’s really simple, right? What we’re doing is taking a walk in nature, which is a tremendous resource that is available to us. We’re doing it with friends.

TINA MARTIN: Pastor Mark Scott, co-chair of the Boston Youth Violence Reduction Task Force, hopes, as it gets hotter and violence spikes, young people will choose to take a few steps to keep the peace.

PASTOR MARK SCOTT: We’re constantly being hit and bombarded by this kind of violence, and we have to react to it every time. But there are things that we can do, traditions that we can create, like coming out on 12:00 noon a Saturday to take a walk in the woods that are right next to your city.

TINA MARTIN: The HERO group gets bigger as the weeks go by. The walks are free and open to anyone. Judith believes her son Paul would approve.

JUDITH FOSTER: He’s smiling. He’s loving it. I find strength in knowing that I’m doing something that he loved to do.

TINA MARTIN: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Tina Martin in Milton, Massachusetts.

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