Friday, February 04, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 10, 2011
Natalya Bannister, 352-377-8003
Boys and Girls Club 1 of 15 selected for gang initiative
New Gang Prevention Initiative Steers Youth Away From Gang & Violent Activity
GAINESVILLE, Fla.– A new gang prevention initiative will assist50young people, who are at risk of gang involvement in Gainesvilleto be steered away from negative and potentially violent behavior. Operated by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Alachua County, the GANG PREVENTION through TARGETED OUTREACH (GPTTO) initiative offers positive, structured activities for these young people in their non-school hours, while aiming to measurably improve their school performance. "Young people have a need for a sense of belonging, competence, usefulness and influence, which they try to fulfill by being involved in a gang," said Freddy Williams, East Gainesville Area Director of the Boys & Girls Club. "The PREVENTION through TARGETED OUTREACH initiative gives youth those same needs through constructive alternatives, while enabling them to resist the dangerous gang life." Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs and administered by Boys & Girls Clubs of America, "GANG PREVENTION through TARGETED OUTREACH" recruits adolescents via referrals from courts, police, school and other community agencies. The Boys & Girls Clubs of AlachuaCountyis one of 15 organizationsnationwide selected to implement this initiative. “The Boys & Girls Club of AlachuaCountywas chosen because of its proven record of providing effective youth development programs, and its commitment to addressing the growing gang problem in the community," says Joe Mollner, Senior Director, Delinquency Prevention for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. "The success of the Club's efforts will serve as a model for other Boys & Girls Clubs interested in starting a gang prevention initiative." An independent evaluation concludes that Boys & Girls Clubs of America programs offer significant promise in addressing America’s growing gang problem. The P/PV evaluation involved 21 Clubs and 932 youth and was funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The P/PV evaluation revealed the following:
• Boys & Girls Clubs kept 73 percent of the prevention youth engaged for 12 months, in spite of the high-risk characteristics that make it difficult to attract such young people and retain their interest. In addition, prevention youth’s attendance rate was high, 50 percent reported attending the Club several times per week.
• Targeted youth were involved in many positive youth-development experiences critical to healthy development. Almost all youth (96 percent of prevention) reported receiving adult support and guidance from Club staff. A majority of youth agreed or strongly agreed they felt a sense of belonging to the Club (64 percent of prevention)
• Most targeted youth perceived the Club as “safe.” On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being safest, 86 percent of prevention rated the Club at 8 or higher.
• Targeted youth associated their Club attendance with a number of positive outcomes, including less contact with the juvenile justice system, improved academic performance, and more positive relationships and productive use of out-of-school time. The evaluation also determined that BGCA’s gang prevention project was far less costly than suppression and incarceration annually averaging more than $50,000. Dr. Gary Walker, chairman/CEO of P/PV, cited Boys & Girls Clubs’ ability to successfully attract high-risk youth to participate in the prevention project. The Boys & Girls Club has served the youth of Alachua Countysince 1949. The Boys and Girls Club of Alachua County provides programs for thousands of localboys and girls in the areas of character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, the arts, and sports, fitness and recreation.
Contact Natalya Bannisterat (352)-377-8003 for additional information.
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