Central Florida mentorship programs help keep kids off streets

As the Orlando Police Department investigates several horrific shootings it’s now learned were the result of gang violence, FOX 35 News is looking more into how to prevent kids from joining gangs.

Our team spoke with three different men who grew up on the streets but now help mentor young people, hoping to protect them from the same lifestyle.

Antwon Carter just crossed the one-year mark for his mentorship program, Men of Integrity.  There, he teaches things like STEM, financial literacy, plus what Carter calls "sustainable living."

"To get them to understand how to survive when meals are short, because not all households are filled with groceries in the pantry," explained Carter.

He deals with kids age 10 to 17.

Jimmy Hogan runs a business called Pressure World, and offers jobs to people in the 17-25 year old age group, hoping to help get them back on track.

He got involved with that after his 22-year-old son was handed a 35-year prison sentence.

"I wasn’t there the way I needed to be, and he got caught up. So now I’m trying to prevent this from happening," Hogan explained. "I’m just really on it now, wishing I could’ve been there for my own."

FOX 35 also caught up with Barry Carson, founder of the Big Bro Little Bro Mentorship Program.

Each of these three men have the same goal: keep kids off the streets, educate them, help them to be good community members.

That way, as Carson explained,

"We won’t be having a conversation about gangs, we’d be having a conversation about what’s upcoming in the community, what’s been changed, what’s been prevented."

If you'd like to get involved, these groups have several things planned for the coming months. Men of Integrity is having a fundraising event January 20th from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 pm. at the Winter Park Community Center, which will include a dinner and silent auction. 

That group is also teaming up with a few others for their 6th annual Christmas Party on December 23rd. They'll be giving out dinner and presents to randomly-selected families.