An Orlando program that helps at-risk youth needs more money to keep saving lives and preventing violence.

The city of Orlando recently voted to expand the Community Violence Intervention program, which is focused on reducing gun violence.

Congressman Maxwell Frost and Democratic Whip Congresswoman Katherine Clark heard from people behind the mission at a roundtable discussion Wednesday.

"We're working with some of the most disadvantaged young men who have experienced trauma after trauma. So, our goal is to ensure that they have a space to come to and speak about some things they may have been experiencing to help them be more productive in their own outlet," said Pernell Bush, a licensed clinical social worker and the president and CEO of No Limit Counseling and Education.

The CVI partner targets at-risk youth living in areas like Parramore, Carver Shores, and Mercy Drive.

Connection and consistency are key.

"When you have been experiencing so many things in life, it's like out here by yourself. Oftentimes, you are just going to revert to what you understand. But, you know, you have individuals that are actually caring for you in your life, you can reach out to, and you feel like you have the strength to pull from some of those most darkest moments that you may be experiencing," Bush said.

At the roundtable, one young man opened up about his haunting experiences with gun violence. Being a CVI fellow, he said, saved his life.

At a city council meeting in March, Abe Morris, who oversees the CVI program, shared numbers to prove its value.

"We've seen the first year of progress, we saw gunshot wounds were down across the city by 36%, and we know homicides were down by 20%. That means 59 people less were shot this year compared to last year, and so with the success of the program, we're looking to expand it," Morris said.

It's why Rep. Frost is fighting for funding.

"We have so many students in our neighborhoods that have so much potential, but unfortunately, due to the failures of government, a lot of people fall behind. That's why housing is important, health care is important, food and making sure you're not in poverty. These things impact gun violence," Frost said.

"The partnerships that I've been able to form just today that we can bring back and make sure that we're really building a future that's worthy of these children," Clark said.


Original story HERE