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Mount Vernon gun violence reduction program helping young people train for careers



MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. — New York is fighting gun violence with career development.

Around $28 million in gun violence prevention money is funding training for hundreds of at-risk young people. Mount Vernon is one of the communities where the cash is making a difference.

“I always had a vision, but it was kind of blurry,” apprentice barber Selwyn Paul said.

His future is now in focus. As a barber and entrepreneur, 20-year-old Paul will soon graduate from the Westchester Barber Academy. His tuition was paid for through a gun violence reduction program.

“We all have a choice to make, you know what I’m saying? And I chose to do the right things,” Paul said.

“There are many ways that we have to come and address community violence,” Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard said.


Patterson-Howard says as gun violence impacts young people, hearts in her city break all too frequently.

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City police regularly take weapons off the street, but enforcement is only part of the equation. Using gun violence funds to pay for career training opens doors.

“Opportunities that offer a positive alternative to violence. Opportunities that can lead to a job,” said Elizabeth Oliveto of the Westchester-Putnam Career Center Network.

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Money from the gun violence reduction program has helped more than 150 young Mount Vernon residents train for careers. They’re working as EMTs, home health aides, and security guards, among other occupations.

Westchester Barber Academy owner Charnay Phaire says training also offers young people the camaraderie and support that helps them make better choices and “soft skills” that can help in other ways.


“You’re gonna meet so many different people. You’re going to develop so many different skills when it comes to your conversation, things you have to do for customer service to successfully be a barber, Phaire said.

“I just want to be successful. Slowly but surely,” Paul said.

He chose his path. He’s putting in the work. His future is looking sharp.

Source: CBS

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