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Columbus Urban League partnership aims to steer kids away from criminal behavior

Columbus Urban League Building
Columbus Urban League
Columbus Urban League

Young people at risk of run-ins with the juvenile justice system are the focus of a Columbus City Council partnership with the Columbus Urban League.

Council members are set to vote Monday night on funding the program, authorizing the expenditure of $350,000 from the general fund.

Columbus Urban League officials describe an eight-week program for kids aged 11 to 17 referred by the court system.

Coaches would work to build self-esteem and teach youngsters leadership, public speaking, and community skills, while at the same time working with parents on things like intervention strategies and conflict resolution.

Charles Hill, the league's Vice President of Operations and Programming, said the ultimate goal is to reduce recidivism and set kids on a better path.

"We know that youth of color are over-represented in the juvenile system today. And additionally, studies have shown that a higher percentage of youth in a system from households come from parents who are absent or disengaged with their kids," Hill said.

Hill hopes to see the pilot program start next month, with a goal of 50 families graduating in the first year.

"You hear the old adage 'kids are our future,' right? They definitely are our future. But right now they don't have all the resources that they need to actively involve them in ways that they feel that they can be engaged and be a part of the solution," Hill said.

You can read the full text of the ordinance below.

Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.