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High Point program gives at-risk young people alternatives to gangs

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- High Point Community Against Violence has been working on crime prevention in the city for more than two decades.

The program recently graduated its largest at-risk class -- a class tailored for young people ages 17 to 28 who are likely to join a gang.

"They are exposed to the influences that go along with gang and group activity and this program is put together to try to meet some of those folks," explained Jim Summey, the executive director of High Point Community Against Violence.

"Some of these guys have a lot of experience on the crude side of the street and to see these guys come up and say, 'Hey, I want to do something more with my life,' that's really good for any High Point person to hear," Summey continued.

The program is a three-week course that meets for three hours a day. Students learn basic carpentry skills so that they can immediately get a job at a construction site.

Each student is also given all the clothing they would be required to have for a construction job.

"If someone told me to do something like carpentry before I'd be like, 'Uh, no.' But now I've done it, I've got some experience, it's actually cool, I wouldn't mind doing it," said 22-year-old Brandon Linton.

Linton recently moved to High Point and found out about the program at church.

Linton says he knows plenty of guys who could benefit from it. "Most people do want to do something like this, they just don't know how to get into it so if they have this opportunity, take it. If someone is handing you a way to better yourself, take it, go for it cause you're not doing anything anyway," he said.

The idea of the program is to give the young adults confidence in their ability to make money, feel good about it and not have to resort to a life of crime.

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