Fort Worth police program targets at-risk teens



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Posted on March 7, 2012 at 11:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 7 at 11:29 PM

FORT WORTH — The Fort Worth Police Department and Samaritan House have partnered with the community to form a pilot program specifically for homeless and at-risk youth.

On Wednesday evening, they kicked-off Project Success 1, a three-month art program for teenagers, some who have been forced to live on the streets.

"That was one of my biggest challenges that I had to go through," said John Gonzalez. The 17-year-old recalled what it was like when his family lost their home to foreclosure and had nowhere to go.

"We carried everything in the van and stayed there," he said.

Eventually, they moved to a shelter.

Project Success aims to help empower teens like Gonzalez.

"They have ideas and have dreams, and that’s all they have," said Fort Worth police Officer Julie Cox. "[There is] no outlet for them."

Cox said the Project Success 1 has the potential to make a real impact in many lives.

In 2011, 588 children were recorded as homeless in Tarrant County. That was a 16.6 percent increase from the year before.

Cox said children from homeless families often end up in a similar situation as adults. This program aims to reverse the trend by teaching at-risk kids carpentry and accounting skills.

"I hope it’s going to give me a lot," Gonzalez said. "Teach me leadership skills."

Gonzalez is studying to become a police officer. He also wanted to encourage other young people who may be going through what he once lived through.

"There’s always hope," he said. "There’s always help. There’s always a future."