By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4)– It’s a problem that has been plaguing Denver and Aurora for the past year; Teenagers caught up in violent attacks, and in some cases, murdered. Now the City of Denver hopes it might have a solution to help keep kids safe.

It’s a simple strategy: if teens are busy doing something constructive they aren’t getting into trouble.

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Christopher Urias grew up in Montbello. He says he wasn’t exactly a model student.

“In middle school I wasn’t too bright and I was getting myself into lots of trouble,” said Urias.

Then one day a friend invited him to go to a meeting for ELK.

“They were like hey come they’re going to have free food and I was like sure let’s go,” said Urias.

(credit: CBS)

ELK stands for Environmental Learning for Kids. It’s a program that exposes kids from the city like Chris to the great outdoors.

“I’ve been able to camp, fish, snowshoe, I’ve been able to go whitewater rafting,” said Urias.

Without those experiences he thinks he may have taken a different path in life.

“They’ve helped me grow as a person and kind of be more aware of the world around myself.”

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver Public Schools superintendent Susana Cordova announced new micro grant funding. A total of $200,000 will be shared by organizations like E.L.K. in an effort to help end youth violence in Denver. The thinking being that giving kids something positive to do will keep them out of trouble.

(credit: CBS)

Urias knows it will work because now he works for ELK. He says the kids he teaches benefit greatly from programs like his.

“They’re alive because of these programs,” said Urias.

The grant money will help them continue to build trust between kids and people in their communities who want to see them succeed.

“It’s so important to keep funding these things,” said Urias.

In addition to the grants, the city will also waive event fees for funded programs that occur in city facilities, like recreation centers and parks. Organizations can apply for a grant starting in March on the City of Denver website.

Michael Abeyta


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