OMAHA (KPTM) – Tielar Clark (19) was struggling in school. She wasn't doing her homework and wasn't going to class on time. She was on the verge of not graduating on time.
"I wasn't too much focused, I became really focused my junior year and that was when I really got involved in this program."
Clark now works for Completely KIDS an organization that's goal is to develop youth and their families through out-of-school time and family strengthening programs in communities where they live.
Completely KIDS is led by Teen Specialist L.D. Richardson Senior. He tells Fox 42 News they are trying to keep kids off the streets and out of gangs.
"Anytime a child or a student, or a kid can have a safe place to go, safe environment to go and not make ad decisions that is a good thing," he said.
Thursday night Completely KIDS held a gang awareness forum in South Omaha. The goal of the meeting was to allow people in the community to speak out about their concerns with gangs. Former gang members spoke about their lives on the street and how to avoid the "gang-life."
"You have to get involved in a program, something that takes your mind off the streets," Clark said.
Crime in Nebraska rose 2%, a state report said Thursday afternoon. More than 53,000 crimes were reported last year, which is a thousand more than the year before. Murder and manslaughter cases jumped 20% in 2010.
Crime in Omaha rose 7%, jumping to over 21,000 reports in 2010.
A report by the University of Nebraska at Omaha shows gang violence is also on the rise. 58 percent of Omaha shootings were gang related.
"It is an epidemic, it is a problem. It is an issue that needs to be addressed," Richardson Sr. said.
For Clark, Completely KIDS changed her life for the better. She enjoys coming into work. Everyday she gets to work with more kids and teach them what she learned from the program.
"My mom, she had faith in me. I had a lot of people who had faith in me and when you have that structure and have that stability and support, you feel that you own them, to do something better with your life."
You can learn more about Completely KIDS by visiting its website www.completelykids.org
Can't find something?