Signs Of Hope



But with all the frustration and despair that gang violence has

brought, there are signs of hope.

Jorge Alfaro was shot at the age of 15 at Kedzie and Armitage avenues

when he and his friends were mistaken for gang members. He was paralyzed

and now must use a wheelchair, but he did not stay stuck for long.

At the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, he found new mentors who

showed him what he could do despite his injury. And now he is part of

the peer mentoring program at the institute.

Jorge is glad he took a different path than some of his peers.

"I came from a neighborhood where there was a lot of gang violence,

and I chose not to be in a gang, and I made a good life," he said.

"I actually like my life today. I love my life."

But the fact remains that violence still plagues the Chicago area, and

the search is on for solutions.

Jesus Garcia said reaching out to youth has been beneficial.

"If we're going to do things to make a difference in the community, we

have to be respectful of young people and invite them to bring their

ideas," Garcia said. "We convened over 450 youth at the Little

Village-Lawndale High School and they came from all over the city. What

happened? Good things happened."

Legal Analyst Irv Miller said teens need to know the law.

"All the laws in the world are not going to work unless these 15- and

16-year-old kids already know what these tough laws already are, because

I am tired of walking into a police lockup -- I am a defense attorney

-- and having the kid ask me, 'What am I looking at?'" Miller said. "And

I have to light the light bulb for him, so he knows he's going to spend

a good part of his adult life behind bars."

You can see the town hall meeting in full in the video clips to the

right.