Our Chicago: Mentoring children, keeping them safe from violence

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The number of shooting victims in the city on any given weekend can be staggering and heartbreaking, especially when they involve children.

However, there are organizations across Chicago working to mentor children, put them on a positive path in life and to get young people away from gangs.

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BUILD Chicago is making sure there are opportunities for the youth during summer as violence rises, said Andres Alvear, BUILD Chicago cheif program officer.



Since 1969, "BUILD Chicago" organization based on the city's west side has reaches more than 25-hundred kids each year, according to the organization.

More than 100 children have been shot in Chicago.

"What our attention is right now is our capacity to respond and also support our youth and families as they're experiencing loss and also trauma, so, we're very focused on making sure that we have more folks out in the community reaching individuals who may be involved in violence," said Andres Alvear, the chief program officer at BUILD Chicago. "Also as we lead into summer, particularly for older youth, we want to make sure there are more meaningful opportunities for them in particular jobs, summer jobs."

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Friends of the Children provides support and assistance to children, said Chris Patterson, Friends of the Children chief program officer.



"Friends of the Children" is a national organization that provides paid mentors to children starting between the ages of four and six.

The group said using paid mentors instead of volunteers is a key to "getting the quality, consistency and commitment" their children and families deserve.

The mentors, or friends as they are called, stay with the children through high school graduation.

"To have young children who don't have a social network that extends beyond maybe just the people in their home, I think is important," said Chris Patterson, chief program officer at Friends of the Children, Chicago. "I think anyone that's doing well or any objective that's ever being reached is because someone was able to drive and push you in that direction,"
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