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If anti-gang violence law dies in Congress, will more teens die across the U.S.?


Nation's youth meet with lawmakers to urge passage of youth promise act

Student delegates hope to meet with a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Senators Obama, Clinton and Chambliss


WASHINGTON, D.C., July 8, 2008—At least 70 high school students from at-risk communities around the United States will converge on Washington, D.C. from July 12–15 to meet with members of Congress as part of World Vision’s Youth Empowerment Project.

One of the issues teens will advocate for is passage of the Youth PROMISE Act*. The bill would provide resources to state and local governments to help prevent juvenile crime, but it remains stalled in Congress while more and more communities across the country continue to face the threat of gang violence every day. According to a 2007 study from the Justice Policy Institute, spending just one dollar on evidence-based prevention programs can yield up to fifteen dollars in benefits to society.

“Gang violence is a symptom of despair, frustration and a lack of opportunities,” said Michael Mata, World Vision’s youth violence expert. “We cannot simply arrest away the problem. We must create an environment that believes in youth and offers options and hope for them. Only then can we stem the tide of violence.”

The youth hope to meet with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Congressman Robert Scott (D-VA), the sponsor of the Youth PROMISE Act. Last year during the summit, youth met with Senators Barack Obama (D-IL), Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

The summit is the culmination of the 20-week Youth Empowerment Project where the students learned how to use the power of politics in their communities to become agents of change. Teens from New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Picayune, Seattle, Tacoma, rural Georgia and West Virginia will attend the three-day summit. The delegates were selected from hundreds of applicants around the country. Delegates will advocate on issues concerning youth violence and prevention, education and strengthening the voice of youth in their communities.

Many of the Youth Empowerment Project leaders have risen up from difficult circumstances and face a daily struggle at home, at school and on the streets to stay safe and succeed. Advocacy gives teens the practical experience of engaging in the structures and systems that have a direct impact on their young lives.

*H.R. 3846 The Youth Prison Reduction Through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education (PROMISE) Act will work in communities facing the greatest youth violence challenges to form a local council comprised of representatives from law enforcement, court services, schools, social services, health providers and community- and faith-based organizations. The council will develop a comprehensive plan for implementing evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies aimed at young people who are at-risk of becoming involved in gangs. (Source: www.house.gov/scott)

To schedule an interview with a YEP mentor or student delegate or to attend the Congressional meetings, contact:
(Seattle) John Yeager, (253) 815-2356 (office), (425) 765-9845 (cell)
(Chicago) Gardi Wilks, (708) 366-8389 (office), (708) 205-5020 (cell)
(Los Angeles) Myrna Gutierrez, (626) 305-7850 (office), (323) 377-2432 (cell)
(New York City) Laura Blank, (212) 736-2997 (office), (646) 245-2496 (cell)


END




World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.worldvision.org/press.
 

Who Is World Vision?

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice..



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