By Lisa Fielding

CHICAGO (CBS) — A new program in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood is helping young teens keep busy and make positive decisions.

The Salvation Army Red Shield Center’s “Celebrate Launch and Landing” program helps youth, teens and families by offering group support, one-to-one mentoring and worship while addressing issues arising from poverty, hunger, violence, lack of education and homelessness. The program is celebrating its one year anniversary. In that time, it has nearly tripled enrollment. WBBM’s Lisa Fielding has more.

“This is the only program like this in the area,” said Community Center Director Al Green.

He said the Red Shield Center is located in one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods – in Englewood on 69th Street – so children and teens have a safe place to go and learn.

“They feel very comfortable and safe, first of all, being here,” Green said. “Secondly, I think they are starting to really understand and grasp that there are outlets to things that are going on.”

Every Wednesday kids and teens from 9-years old and up meet to hang out, talk with mentors, listen to music and participate in workshops about jobs, finances, and relationships. The program also offers sports, group support, worship and more designed to keep young people out of trouble and on the right path.

“We want to teach these kids how to take off from some of the hardships that they are dealing with, but then at the end, we want them to land in a place where they feel secure about themselves, secure about their surroundings and that they are growing,” Green said.

Clients participating in the Celebration Launch and Lancing program can access the Salvation Army’s wide range of services including food pantry, utility assistance, Pathway of Hope, substance abuse treatment and more.

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