Antoine Cassidy moved to Bed-Stuy at only six years old, which was a nerve-wracking experience for anyone, but not in his case. Antoine was able to live his life to the fullest and change the lives of many. While growing up, he called his neighborhood “Vietnam,” there were always “war tactics” that needed to be enforced for survival, but he didn’t allow them to be his downfall; instead, they taught him a lot about life and about who he was, igniting his ability to understand different people and their personalities and increasing his development of excellent communication skills to connect with people from different walks of life. He used all these skills to navigate his journey.
Those experiences motivated him to make changes and encourage others; according to Mr. Cassidy, he was known for being a drug dealer, but he yearned for a better image. He believes the community desperately needs to stop gun violence, the selling and use of drugs, and the exploitation of women and children but there is a lack of resources available. For these reasons, he developed the No Gun Smoke School Tour Inc., a non-profit organization with a mission to help community members and schools change the narrative associated with gun violence and help make a positive impact through the programming his organization provides.
Over the years, he has worked with thousands of students and community members through the Department of Correction (Riker’s Island) and a variety of school settings, with some schools including Eagle Academy, Life Academy, P.S.5 and P.S.308, where he has provided mentorship, art therapy, music development, fabric art, pottery, boxing, re-entry mentoring, etc. to participants. He is known for being authentic, genuine, honest, respectable, and easy to talk to.
As someone aware of his skills and personality, he works with kids to build their self-esteem and self-actualization to survive and flourish within their environments. To “flourish,” he empowers children to believe in themselves and teaches the importance of entrepreneurship. Antoine helps them develop new skills that can help serve and save the community. One of Mr. Cassidy’s favorite quotes is “Each One, Teach One.” He believes that we all can learn from each other and that everyone has something to offer to the world. Antoine believes children are the future, and all they need is motivation to become active role models within their community.