District 150 unveils "Don't Start" program at two schools

By WEEK Producer

January 15, 2014 Updated Jan 15, 2014 at 10:38 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill.-- Peoria law enforcement and school leaders have rolled out another component of the “Don't Shoot” initiative.

The "Don't Start” program will try and prevent students from joining gangs.

Educators and law enforcement officials unveiled the program at Harrison Learning Center on Wednesday.

The program will provide social, cultural and sport activities for students at Trewyn and Harrison outside of regular school hours.

"Once they understand the expectation that we have for them behavior-wise and academic-wise, then the kids can't do anything but succeed. They look forward to having something to fill their time with after school,” said

"The majority want to do the right thing,” said Program Head Carl Cannon. “We just have to give them the mechanism to do it."

The program will also have a parent component called "Families Matter".

“Don't Start” is funded with a $200,000 grant from the state and will begin next month.

Daurice Figgers has two children currently attending Trewyn School. The divorced mother works in the culinary field and is very active in her children's lives.

Figgers said even though she has a good support system for her son, he has been approached by gang members.

"The stranger was in a dark colored SUV and I heard him say hey little man come here let me talk to you, get you to do something,” she said.

Figgers said fortunately she overheard the stranger and intervened. She said the "Don't Start” program will give parents another strong tool to keep their children on track.