After the Bell: Vision Regeneration

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by CHRIS FLANAGAN / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on February 8, 2010 at 8:19 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 8 at 4:24 PM

DALLAS - It may have taken years, but Deandre Penson finally turned his back on gang life. 

The 17-year-old Carter High School sophomore said he was in a gang for as long as he could remember. He's been working for about a year to turn his life around through a program called "Vision Regeneration."

"When they were like, 'You can end up at ... in jail or in the cemetery,' that ain't for me," Penson said.

Omar Jahwar founded the non-profit. He works in the city's highest crime neighborhoods helping kids like Penson leave the gang life. 

"I believe the heartbeat of Dallas is the young people," Jahwar said. "We cannot afford to excuse a whole generation of young people from a quality life. We can't say it's okay to them to dropout and have babies and be in gangs. We cannot do that. That is unfair."

Mari Johnson has served as Penson's youth advise and works in Dallas schools. She said there are a lot of other kids that are in the same situation Penson once lived. 

"They all really want to get out," she said. "They are all really looking for acceptance. And if they can find that acceptance somewhere, that's not somewhere in the same negative environment, I think most of them will gravitate towards that."

E-mail cflanagan@wfaa.com

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