HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston's mayor is reaching out to young people in a new program with a goal to end gang violence.
A three-day conference and training pilot program with participants from all over the country kicked off early Monday morning.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said there are three goals of this week's training:
- Intervene before kids decide to join a gang
- Reclaim youth who have already become involved in gang violence
- Deal with those who are making the streets dangerous for our youth
The Youth Gang Intervention and Outreach program is a division of the Department of Neighborhoods.
The program focuses on street outreach work and youth intervention to end gang and youth violence.
Organizations from all over the country, from New Jersey to Hawaii, landed in Houston around 6:30 a.m. Monday.
The mayor talked about how youth gang violence isn't just a law enforcement problem, but an entire city and community problem that needs a holistic approach to stopping it.
Turner said there are currently 20,000 gang members in Houston, so the program made a goal of creating 20,000 paid summer internship opportunities for teens and young adults between 16 and 24 years old.
In their first attempt, they achieved 15,000 opportunities this summer.
"The whole goal is to say to our young folks, 'We love you more than the gangs do. We care for you and we want to do all that we can to assist you,'" Turner said.