Recently, we have been hearing more talk of gang activity among our youth in Rockford. Tuesday night, the Rockford School Board will decide whether to expel 10 students for alleged gang activity.
Statistics show that most times when kids turn to gangs they are looking for a sense of belonging. Now, after months of renovations, a positive alternative to gangs is back.
The similarities are all present; gang signs, a theme song, a theme song and a chance to be a leader, except the gang at Let's Talk it Out promotes anti-violence messages and empowers kids to surround themselves in a positive environment.
East High School student Derren Merriweather said, "It's good to come here. It relieves a lot of stress."
LTO Junior Leader Lawrence Watkins agrees. He told 23 News, "We're here to build each other up, not let each other down."
The new head of Let's Talk it Out, Andre Ford, can speak from experience what can happen when youth go down the wrong road. Ford took over in July after long-time executive director Ralph Hawthorne resigned.
"I was in a gang, I was involved in a murder, I was on the front the page. I believe I choose the wrong friends but I can help them choose right friends," said Ford after his first meeting.
Andre says every Monday night he hopes more and more turn to Let’s Talk it Out and away from gangs. Anyone in grades 6 through 12 are welcome to attend the meeting every Monday at 7 p.m.