Club Aims to Keep Kids Away from Crime

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The “Young Eagles Success” Club — or “YES” Club for short –- held their first Rally for Peace this morning at Giovanni’s in Rockford. The club is aimed at preventing kids from making bad decisions -– like getting involved in drugs or violent crime.

The “YES” Club was founded by Carl and Diana Cole under a different name 25 years ago, but is starting to gain more momentum as the city of Rockford fights back against a plague of juvenile violent crime.

“This is not just an option, this is something that’s gotta be happening because we’re losing our kids, and they seem each year to be getting younger and younger in committing crime,” said Diana Cole.

Over a dozen community leaders came to the event to show their support -– including Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato, Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana, Senator Steve Stadelman and Bergstrom CEO Jack Shaffer.

State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato says kids who grow up in a bad environment are 50% more likely to turn to crime, and he believes a positive environment — like the one provided by the “YES” Club — has the opposite effect.

“Organizations like the ‘YES’ Club help kids, support kids, nurture kids,” said Bruscato. “They’re the ones that contribute to the likelihood that kids are going to avoid bad judgement, and avoid bad behavior and avoid crime.”

Diana Cole says many kids turn to gangs because they want to feel a sense of family, something she says the “YES” Club can provide them with instead.

“The ‘YES’ Club is a positive way of saying, ‘Join us, we’re a family. We can show you a better way and we can help you with choices and we’ll be looking out for you’,” said Cole.

Sheriff Caruana sending the same message, saying the club could have a real effect on lowering juvenile violent crime.

“It’s just a dynamic program that I think if we engage as a community and start mentoring these kids, it’s gonna pay off as we move down the road,” said Caruana.

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