WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — In recent months, law enforcement agencies have voiced concerns about teen violence and the rise in fentanyl use. Local nonprofits say connecting youth with mentors can make a big impact.
“Brody is my friend, and I look forward to every week that I can spend time with him and catch up,” said Arkansas City Police Chief Eric Burr.
Burr has been in Big Brothers Big Sisters ‘Bigs In Blue’ program for five years.
“Number one, it gets us into the schools, but we also have that one-on-one mentorship time, that can almost be an intervention. So it’s, you know, we’re being a strong role model. So we can steer kids away from risky behaviors, like criminal activity and drug use,” he said.
The nonprofit has just under 900 kids across Kansas waiting for a match.
“We need to find more people to step forward,” Burr said. “It’s just all about spending that time.”
Flashpoint Youth Center is another mentor program in Wichita.
“Since the first of the year, we’ve gone from about 10 kids to 25,” said Kurt McClanahan, Founder of Flashpoint Youth Center.
It started in June. The group meets with students in grades K-12 every night, Monday to Thursday.
“We want to keep them off the street, keep them busy, keep things that are around them positive, no negativity,” McClanahan said.
They go over things like budgeting, anger management, gun protection, and cyberbullying and even bring in speakers.
“Police officers in the community come in and talk to the kids frequently on a regular basis talk about things like fentanyl gun violence, what to do what not to do,” McClanahan said.
If you would like to sign up to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, click here.