Clarence Swearengen greets attendees as members of Drums Up Guns Down perform in background. Photos by Vivian Shipe

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — Last Saturday morning the Jacob’s Building in East Knoxville was filled with music, the sound of drums, dancing, and laughter at the Knoxville Urban Family Festval sponsored by Real Talk Mentoring.

Brian Brooks with Faith Promise church plays games with the kids.

Real Talk Inc. was founded by Clarence Swearengen and seeks to enrich, encourage and empower youth through shared-life experiences. Founded in 2008 and starting with four students at Vine Middle School, the program now serves over 200 students in eleven Knox County schools 

For over 15 years, the program has provided a safe place for youth to share their stories and get the resources they need for their health and wellbeing. The programs community footprint is steadily growing. One avenue of growth has been events to build relationships throughout the city.

The Knoxville Urban Family Festival, now in it’s second year, seeks to build community involvement and decrease violence among youth.

Community groups filled the large venue with resources for the families in attendance including the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA, the  Boys and Girls Clubs, New Directions Health Care, the Knoxville Area Urban League, church groups and the fire department; a big hit with the fire hats they gave the children.