Program keeping youth off of the streets

By Beau Ebenezer

April 12, 2013 Updated Apr 12, 2013 at 7:43 PM CDT

PEORIA Ill -- Tuesday, Peoria's homicide count rose to five with three of them happening back to back earlier this week.

With the increasing violence on the streets, one local program is looking to change these negative perspectives for teens, starting at an early age.

"We have got to do our job, said ELITE program founder," Carl Cannon." Keep those that are not in the mix, out of the mix. Give those who are considering that negative mix, a reason to stay away from it."

The Peoria Park District held its Elite program retreat Friday afternoon, and for this chunk of Peoria's youth, they sounded like a well oiled machine.

Dozens of students from six different area High Schools attended the retreat, marking the 8th week of their 12-week ELITE program.

"I've changed throughout time, and I've seen my friends change and become newer than what they were," said Richwoods sophomore, Tyriona Walker. "It's very helpful, so we probably might be somewhere in 5 years."

Cannon said the ultimate goal of the program is to prepare the youth for their future and get them jobs once they graduate the program.

In Friday's retreat, students were put into different color groups based on their personality.

Students were then asked to work with different colors to complete different tasks.

While the ELITE program covers only six schools in the area right now, District 150 Superintendent, Dr. Grenita Lathan said they are looking to expand the program this fall.

"In society there is so many negative things trying to pull young people," said Lathan. "There will always be a need for ELITE and a program of this nature."

Students in the program will graduate next month.

They will then be eligible to mentor in the program.

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