At a news conference on Monday afternoon, Hancock was joined by:
- City Attorney Kristin Bronson
- Jonathan McMillan, Denver's youth violence prevention coordinator
- Dane Washington, a member of the city's Youth Advisory Council of Denver.
They highlighted the objectives of the city's plan to prevent youth violence and the importance of youth participation in the process.
"The violence is real," Hancock said. "More importantly, it’s preventable."
The City and County of Denver has called the number of teens impacted by youth violence a public health crisis. Denver Public Health said an average of 700 people who are directly affected by gun violence each year are under the age of 25.
In response, about a year and 1/2 ago, the city established the Youth Violence Prevention Action Table to develop a comprehensive plan to address youth violence in the city and the region. The Action Table includes city leaders and members of a Youth Advisory Council.
The plan's initiatives include grants to community-based organizations that work with youth, a partnership with the City of Aurora to work on regional violence prevention and the establishment of a youth empowerment center at 1240 W. Bayaud Ave. to provide resources and support to youth and families.
McMillan said he envisions the center as a place for a variety of programming that includes entrepreneurship, development training and mental health support.
"We're really digging deep and going long and wide with this effort," he said.
The Action Team is planning a "soft opening" for the center this weekend, though the building itself requires additional renovations before it opens, McMillan said. The soft opening is among many activities planned as part of National Youth Violence Prevention Week. The full schedule can be found here.
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