'A Chance At Life': Philly woman promotes peace through fun activities for city children

Matteo Iadonisi Image
Sunday, September 10, 2023
Philly woman promotes peace through fun activities for city children
Shawna Smith has opened her doors for children like 14-year-old Emani Wooden, who lost her mother in an act of gun violence.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "I feel like a lot of these kids are not able to be kids," said Shawna Smith. "They're constantly reminded of the crime and the violence in the city of Philadelphia."

Smith, who grew up in a family that focused on giving back, created her own nonprofit last year. She named it, 'A Chance At Life,' which hosts a variety of activities while promoting anti-gun violence.

"Whatever A Chance At Life Inc. can do to kind of redirect that energy and get them out here doing more positive things, I'm all for it," she said.

Smith, committed to making change, moved from South Jersey to West Philadelphia. Since then, she has hosted events such as 'Strike Back Against Gun Violence,' a community bowling day.

And today, she opened the doors to her home for a cooking class with a guest chef. She called it, 'Recipe for Peace.'

"We have a lot of kids that are somewhat raising themselves when they have parents that work all day long and they need to get up and prepare for school or dinner," said Smith. "We're teaching them the basic essentials of cooking a meal today."

Events like these are special for 14-year-old Emani Wooden, whose mother was shot and killed two years ago. Wooden first met Shawna at a park near her house and has since become a dedicated member and volunteer with the nonprofit.

"I couldn't get close to nobody, wanted to talk to nobody for a while," said Wooden. "And when I met Shawna, it's just like, she's like my best friend."

Smith, who has no biological children, considers the members of her organization to be like family.

"They're added to A Chance At Life so yeah, they're all my babies," she said. "A Chance At Life babies."

In the future, Smith hopes to invite more children in the community to get involved with more activities and eventually grow her nonprofit beyond Philadelphia.

To learn more about A Chance At Life, visit their website.

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