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Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives is a community-based, non-law enforcement, not-for profit agency founded in 1988 with a primary mission of helping to curb gang related violence and gang recruitment activities in the Denver metro area.
Gang Involvement and Affiliation Prevention
Understanding the philosophy that the most effective way to control the growth and eliminate youth gangs in our community is to stop the recruitment of potential youth into the gangs, this component of the program is designed to reach out to school-aged children, ages five through twelve. The activities are conducted at Wyatt-Edison Charter School, immediately following the children's dismissal from regular classes. The activities start with a nutritious snack, after which students receive help with homework or are provided educational matierals to advance in their academic studies. A strong emphasis is put on self-discipline, self-improvement, staying focused on what they are doing in class and at home and on setting personal goals. Throughout this process, the children are constantly confronted with the dangers and negative consequences of becoming involved in a gang. At present, two hundred and eighty children are enrolled in this component.
Crisis Intervention and Mediation Program
The professional staff intervenes on an on-call basis in locations where violence is about to or has already occured. The rapport established with street youth by the Executive Director and his team often prevents violence or provides the team with an opprotunity to mediate between and among rival gang members. This aspect of the program is conduceted within the law and as positive non-interfering assistance to officials responsible for safety and security in our communities.
This program is designed to give potential and actual gang members a number to call and a place to come to on an as-needed basis, for support, dialogue, and guidance. These services are otherwise unobtainable to these at-risk youth. As with Alcoholics Anonymous, persons who "have been there" are available to help youth who seek out these support services. Another aspect of the program is family and victim support. On a regular basis, the Exceutive Director and/or his designee meets with family members of gang or potential gang members to help them understand the full scope of their issues and their part in the solution. Families of victims of gang violence are also part of this support program.
This aspect of Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives is designed to develop materials, promulgate inforamtion and conduct programs on a community-wide basis about gang influence, activity, symptoms and possible solutions. These programs are tailored for schools, corporations, other non-profit agencies, law envorcement agencies and civic groups. The foucs of the program seeks to eduatie as many as possible and is designed to involve all.
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