ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — On Monday, a 14-year-old boy was shot twice in the area of the Orton Keyes apartments, near Rockford’s Boys and Girls Club.
The Boys and Girls Club organization works to change the dynamic in the community to keep children out of crime.
“They weren’t even aware of what happened until they heard about it,” said Clifford Stoner, President and CEO of the Rockford Boys and Girls Club.
According to police, the shooting happened in the 600 block of Ranger Street.
A Rockford Boys and Girls Club is located at 635 Ranger Street.
Authorities said a 14-year-old boy had been shot while walking in the area. He received at least two gunshot wounds and is in critical condition, police said.
Stoner said the Rockford chapter of the national organization serves around 500 at-risk kids per day.
He added that the shooting incident gave the club an opportunity to talk to students about youth violence.
“[We] talk to our kids about making sure again they avoid this and that this doesn’t happen to them,” Stoner said. “We do that on a regular basis in our clubs because we know what’s happening and it’s it’s no secret that the challenges in a lot of our neighborhoods.”
Stoner said the Boys and Girls Club and other youth organizations are important because they give children a safe place and help set them up for future success, via tutoring programs and “social-emotional learning.” Stoner says the latter helps them learn how to communicate and handle conflict.
“If we can teach them and make the right decisions as kids, more likely that they’re going to make the right decisions as young adults and adults. So we want to show our kids the different opportunities and that they can truly become productive citizens for the greater Rockford area,” he said.
“We want our kids to live in and [have fun] playing and learning in the safest environment and not have to always face these challenges which unfortunately, some of the violence that’s out there brings [it] right to their doorstep,” he continued.
The assailant in the shooting is described as a white male, between 15-17 years old, armed with a pink handgun.