Youth face a lot of challenges anywhere, but ICAN was founded by Henry Salinas to specifically address issues youth encounter in the Downtown Chandler and surrounding communities. One of those issues is gang activity, which comes with pressures and influences that keep youth from reaching their full potential and following a positive path.
ICAN’s youth programs are proven effective at preventing substance abuse, gang activity and other delinquency among youth through the development of life skills like “resilience.” Resilience refers to an individual’s ability to adapt to change and stressful events in a healthy and flexible way. Resiliency is critical in the prevention of gang activity because it boosts a child’s ability to “bounce back” from negative circumstance, choosing a positive path rather than the path of gang involvement.
Many people may not realize that gang activity is quite prevalent in the Chandler community, as evidenced by the following provided through ICAN’s Annual Community Needs Assessment:
- 9 rival gangs exist within the area (Chandler Police Department 2011)
- 4th riskiest Maricopa County community for youth (Arizona Department of Behavioral Health Services 2009 Needs Assessment)
Of 10 youth who live in the downtown Chandler area, you can expect to find: (ICAN Community Needs Assessment 2011)
- 7 living in extreme poverty, in household earning less than $25k per year for a family of four
- 8 will be using drugs or alcohol to cope with the harsh realities of the streets
- 4 will not graduate high school
- 2 will be gang affiliated by the age of 12
ICAN’s primary strategy is to prevent gang involvement through the building of social skills that allow for productive decision making by youth. Secondary to that, ICAN has also partnered with the Chandler Police Department’s Gang Unit to strongly impact gang involvement among older youth through bi-monthly “outreach & ride-alongs” to recruit at-risk youth into our programs and share an alternative to life on the streets. ICAN also partners with the Chandler Coalition on Youth Substance Abuse (CCYSA) to make positive community impacts.