Youth Violence Intervention Program in Rockford graduates first class

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ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) --- Earlier this year, the Rockford Police Department started the Youth Violence Intervention Program geared towards putting area youth back on track.

On Wednesday, November 7, several boys graduated from that program ready for a fresh start and the chance for a promising future.

In this program, police officers help mentor the 11 to 14-year-olds by playing basketball, helping them with school work and teaching leadership skills.

Some parents say the program has helped keep kids off the streets. One mother says sometimes it takes someone other than a parent to teach kids valuable life lessons.

"My son is the type of son that he doesn’t care for authority too much but for him, working with authority and sitting and talk with them and they do things with him, it works good because he starts to listen and to understand what authority means," Gwen Barnett said.

Barnett says even though her son graduated from the program, he hopes to continue hanging out with the officers who helped him.

Along with playing sports with the boys, officers also helped with homework and introduced them to new skills, like computer coding and music theory.