WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Hope for Da Hood is tackling gang violence in their communities by walking and praying. Now, this is something that other organizations have done as well but what’s different about the heads of this mission is, they are ex-gang members.

“We were some of the first real active gangs here in Wichita,” said the main organizer, Beni Santibanez.

Gang related deaths and violent crimes are nothing new to Wichita, and as law enforcement continues to work on the problem, gang activity and gang related crimes are still an issue in Wichita. Organizers of today’s event say public forums to resolve some of these issue aren’t always a success so, Hope for Da Hood ministries has established a relationship with law enforcement to assist.

“They told us that it’s hard to get through to the people that live in bad parts of town,” explained Beni. “Like, we all grew up here. We know where the problems are and how to speak the language that people around here will understand.”

Beni tells us gang activity was the highest in the 90’s and he was a major part of that. The north and south side rivalry caused a lot to change in these neighborhoods, including the shut down of community events at Evergreen Park. Now, almost 30 years later, that’s changing. Evergreen Park will see it’s first festival in three decades, on April 29th.

“These prayer walks that we’re doing, that’s what it’s all about, raising awareness for this event and for the new time we’re in here in Wichita,” said Beni. “Some of these gangs are still active but they should know there are outlets like prayer and hope to turn to. That’s what I did.”

There will be two Hood Fests, the first is on April 29th at Planeview Park and the other is April 30th at Evergreen Park. See flyer below for details.