Riverview West Florissant Development Corporation (RFWDC) was founded in 1994 to strengthen and stabilize the geographical areas north of St. Louis City. The mission of the Riverview West Florissant Development Corporation is to undertake community development activities that included housing, neighborhood improvement and economic development in the neighborhoods of Baden, College Hill, Near North Riverfront, North Point, O’Fallon, Penrose, Walnut Park East and West, Hyde Park, and other communities within the city’s North side. Over the years, we have experienced the effects of violence within these various communities. St. Louis City is one of the leading cities in the US among violent crimes and the Walnut Park neighborhood is a brief 20-minute drive away. Of these statistics, more and more offenders are under the age of 18. Though recent years have brought declines in both overall youth crime and violent youth crime, St. Louis’ rates of violence are still higher than in most other places in the nation.
With 50 youth gunshot deaths for every 100,000 people, that rate is more than three times the national rate of 15 deaths per 100,000. The surrounding 15 county regions, which includes municipalities in Missouri and Illinois, ranks ninth among US metropolitan areas for the number of youths murdered with guns. Youth female offenders are also on the rise according to the City Circuit Attorney’s Office. “More and more female cases of violence is coming across my desk daily.” Prevention programs are necessary to combat the violence in our community. Programs that are geared towards addressing the complex needs of gender specific issues, not just the basic educational needs are important in our city. We are experiencing an alarming rate of middle school dropouts, truancy, gang activity, drug abuse and drinking. We are also seeing an increase in domestic violence towards young girls by both younger males and females; vice versa, female youth have become increasingly more violent towards those around them. The violence, which stems from misplaced anger, is often due to underlying issues, including abandonment, fear, low self-esteem, low self-worth and other issues and must be addressed. We must peel back the layers of the “at-risk” youth onion, to get to the “core” of the real issues. We, as an organization, are prepared with tissues of hope, encouragement, counseling, trust and longevity of presence in their lives.
The Village of Safe Space is an collective group of nonprofits, working in various areas of St. Louis City in partnership with SLPS, to provide after School Programming to students and neighborhood residents. Our focus in the program is at-risk youth along with needy families who can benefit from various programs such as financial literacy, anger management, group therapy as well as many other art and science programs. Sports are included however our greatest resource is a pool dynamic mentors for each youth.
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