How often have we heard of or even uttered the popular phrase “an epidemic of violence”? A new program at New York City Mission Society reinvents gun violence prevention using a public health approach. By envisioning the spread of violence like an infectious disease that can be interrupted, Operation SNUG (“Guns” spelled backwards) works directly with those who are most likely to commit gun violence – young people – and persuades them to find peaceful solutions to conflict.
Operation SNUG will employ street-smart Outreach Workers to develop relationships with those who are most at risk for shooting others or being shot themselves. Violence Interrupters will intervene with young people and families at the moment tensions run high—whether at the hospital bed of someone who has just been shot, when revenge is often plotted; by bringing rivals together to talk out a solution; negotiating ways for aggrieved rivals to save face without resorting to killing; and so on. The program will include components to mobilize the community, engage religious leaders, collaborate with the police, and educate the public.
Club Real Deal
After a one-year hiatus, Club Real Deal, the proven pregnancy prevention program created by Dr. Michael Carrera and the Children’s Aid Society, is back to serve another group of teens in Harlem. This program will engage a cohort of sixty children, beginning at ages 11 and 12, and grow with them over four years while providing education, employment, family life and age-appropriate sexuality education, self-expression, lifetime individual sports, medical and dental care, and mental health services.
With previous funding from the Robin Hood Foundation, New York City Mission Society ran Club Real Deal with enormous success for 13 years, preventing pregnancy among 100 percent of participants. A very welcome grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health brings this program back for another empowering, educational, and life-changing experience for Harlem youth.