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Tulsa Dream Center launching new program to curb youth crimes

Posted at 5:23 PM, Jan 16, 2023

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa Dream Center is starting a new program in an attempt to combat the trend of teen gun violence the city saw in 2022.

Whether it's community service like packing food to give to those in need or playing sports, the Executive Director of the Tulsa Dream Center says it’s all about keeping kids busy. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, children and teens at Tulsa's Dream Center were getting to work.

“MLK Day is a day of service," said Torii Ransom Freeman, a volunteer and Regional Secretary of the Jack & Jill Chapter. "It's not just a day off for kids and adults.”

It’s the philosophy that Tulsa Dream Center Executive Director Tim Newton has on a daily basis, especially for teens. Tulsa police say juveniles are responsible for all or part of about 40 percent of the city’s shootings.

“It’s really heartbreaking, honestly," Newton said.

Newton’s about to launch a new youth diversion program where his team will recruit high school students from Webster and McClain to join the Dream Center.

“The goal is — how can we impact those two particular schools and divert those boys and girls from the situations they’re in and do something more positive," he said.

In a study conducted by Georgetown University's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, teens stay away from crime when they’re involved with jobs, sports and music and community service. Factors that lead to crime include lack of family support, money and peer pressure.

2 News asked Newton what teens tell him after they commit crimes.

“They say they didn’t have anything to do," Newton said. " Or they didn’t know the outcome of it.”

All Dream Center activities are free. Newton says as long as children have mentors and opportunities, they’re on the right track.

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