Sunday, August 08, 2010

13 years old. Dead on Chicago street

Saturday's Chicago Tribune editorial page headline was "13 years old" with a photograph of a boy shot 13 times.

In this editorial the Tribune says the city can reduce the number of homicides with the right policing strategies, with strategies that target repeat gun-offenders, and with creative anti-violence programs like Cease Fire.

We agree.

But why did they not go further to add a call for more and better non-school programs to mentor and tutor, and provide extended learning, and opportunities for youth to build vocational and career skills?

Better policing and programs like Cease Fire are small buckets of water being poured on a raging inferno. This is where the pipeline from birth to work is already gushing failures.

This city, and its suburban neighbors need to be finding ways to support kids from pre-school through college or vocational training and into jobs and careers.

One part of that strategy needs to include volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs where kids can get extra help, and where adults who don't live in poverty, can be lifelines, connecting kids from poverty neighborhoods to opportunities the they might have with extra help. For many volunters, this is a first step for a life time of involvement.

I know. It was my first step more than 37 years ago when I first became a volunteer tutor working with a 4th grade boy living in Cabrini Green.

Each of the programs operating in Chicago will be looking for volunteers as school starts. they will also be looking for operating dollars so they can provide the support needed by youth and volunteers who join these programs.

If the Tribune, SunTimes, and other media do as Chicago Access TV is doing, and use point readers to the Tutor/Mentor Connection's database of Chicago area programs, they can help more volunteers and youth connect, and they can help them stay connected for months, or even years.

Read more about volunteer recruitment strategies and incorporate these in your own actions so we can help build a stronger foundation and prevent fewer young people from becoming victims and lost potential.

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