PEORIA, Ill.–Thursday was a big step for many of Peoria’s future leaders.
The founder of Elite Design says the change within these kids is like night and day.
From where they were when they started the program to where they are now, there’s just no comparison.
The Peoria Park District puts this program on and has speakers from the community come out and teach important life lessons.
From law enforcement, to Peoria Public Schools, these city leaders want the kids to succeed and they want to give them to tools to do so.
Many connections made through this program will even help the students get jobs.
Carl Cannon, Founder of Elite Design, says he believes this program is life-changing, and could even save lives.
“Since January of 2018 there are 14 unsolved murders in the city of Peoria of young black men. A 4-year-old would be included in those unsolved murders. If we don’t do something early, we’re burying them later,” Cannon said.
Cannon says this program helps kids build friendships and have accountability to do the right thing.
“If they didn’t have a family, they do now. They have an extended family. Someone on the right or the left who will whisper the right things in their ears instead of some of the negatives that they might’ve been attached to prior to this concept,” Cannon said.
“All of the youth who were identified were potential gang members. So we went through extensive sessions on gang free life. That includes peer pressure, bullying, conflict resolution, self-sabotaging behavior, and what a real community is all about,” Cannon said.
Although the program was only six weeks long, Cannon says the information learned will last a lifetime.
“And the transition, over just a short period of time, shows me that they had a want for something positive. And they got it,” said Cannon.
Cannon says a very important part of this program was the “game changers.”
The game changers are grown men who had been in trouble with the law before, but decided to turn their lives around and provide guidance for the kids in the program.
Cannon says now these grown men, who live in different areas throughout Peoria, can be like fathers to the kids, and offer guidance for them to make the right choices.