The Nyack Center has received a $46,000 grant to implement a gang-prevention program in Nyack. Twenty children, from grade 5 through high school, have been chosen to participate in the program. The initial funding was provided by the Rockland County Youth Bureau and Senator Thomas Morahan. Nyack Mayor John Shields has promised an additional $10,000 of funding if this offer is matched by the South/Upper Nyack and Orangetown.
“The Youth Outreach gang prevention program addresses a small but growing community concern,” says Kim Cross, Director of The Nyack Center. “Kids from low income background that have friends, siblings or relatives in gangs are considered ‘at risk’ and can benefit from this program by finding positive activities to do,” she says.
Part-time case worker Rodney Smith works one-on-one with each student meeting regularly with the participants to identify their interests and facilitate pro-social activities. The tasks vary by the needs of each child but include program registration, equipment purchases and arranging transportation as required. Little League and other sports and art, music and dance are examples of activities which are considered. The case worker also takes on the role of child advocate and provides conflict resolution where necessary.
Forty additional children considered “at risk” for gang activities have been identified and are on a waiting list for this program.