President Barack Obama chose to promote his gun plan in Minneapolis because of steps the city has taken to reduce gun violence, and one local program is reporting youth violence has decreased 60 percent in the city.
The Blueprint for Action initiative is a 28-page plan to prevent youth violence. It was created in 2008 in response to the killings in the early 2000s.
"It was starting to echo the days of 'Murderapolis' in that timeframe," said Alyssa Banks, youth violence prevention coordinator. "There were roughly 80 youth homicides."
The initiative works on turning hard-learned lessons into efforts to stop youth from going down the wrong path.
"It's hard -- really hard -- hearing gun shots at night," Aamina Muhammad told FOX 9 News.
Muhammad, 20, has seen and heard the gun violence in north Minneapolis -- and it's why she joined the Minneapolis Youth Congress three years ago.
"I do think that there should be more programs deeper within our communities and deeper within our schools to help prevent this gun violence," she said.
She's not just waiting for things to change either. She's been working to make the community she loves a better one, and she said they are making headway.
"I think we are improving -- especially programs like My Youth Congress, getting kids off the streets," Muhammad said.
Muhammad explained that the motto for MYC is: "There's no decision without us." She says most people involved in cliques or gangs do it for the attention, but that groups like hers give those youth a voice.
Banks explained that the programs that came out of the Blueprint for Action are effective because the plan is focused on four key areas:
Five years later, the efforts are paying off, according to Banks.
"We've seen over 60 percent reduction in juvenile violent crime, as well as incidents involving guns and juveniles," she said.
One of several programs that came to life from the action plan was Picturing Peace, which asked young artists to share their vision of what peace looked like. Now, 22 utility boxes around downtown display that art.
"Our youth violence prevention effort has been successful, but we're not finished yet and there's a long way to go," Banks said.
Several cities -- including Seattle and Milwaukee -- have reached out to Minneapolis to learn more about the Blueprint to Action initiative for input on creating their own policies.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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