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'It reaffirms why we're here:' Urban Youth Academy on shooting near 18th and Vine

Posted at 4:48 PM, Aug 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-06 19:37:07-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Inside the walls of a brand new baseball complex in the 18th and Vine District, the goal is much bigger than just sharing the game.

Every hit, every slide at the Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy contributes to the goal of ending the violence that currently plagues the city. 

"We're here to give them that seed so they can go plant it in their own communities," said Angel McGee, Manager of Communications and Outreach.

The academy opened the doors of its new complex in March in the hopes of empowering kids and teenagers not only through sports but also through education and mentorship. 

The importance of the mission became even more clear after six people were shot Sunday morning just a couple blocks away. 

"It reaffirms why we're here to do what we do, which is basically be a positive impact to those youth," McGee explained. 

RELATED | Community advocates react to violent week in KC

The outcry over the recent spike in gun violence also reaffirms the work Detective Kevin Boehm does.

"If we were in a society, or if we were in a city where this wasn't a news story, then I would really be concerned," he said.

41 Action News caught up with the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers coordinator just before a board meeting, where members approved a $10,000 payout for tipsters who helped solve a recent homicide. It's the second payout since the reward amount was increased in April.

Boehm believes the increased reward money, plus coverage of this week's shootings, is helping.

"All of the publicity this is getting, it's motivating people to come forward, to get involved, and that's really what we need. We can't have people on the sidelines," Boehm said.

Rather, more people need to be on the field like McGee and the other staff members at the Urban Youth Academy. The nonprofit had a goal to serve 1,000 kids in its first year, but after being open just three months, they hit the 3,000 mark. 

For McGee, it's all about giving back and honoring the mentors who shaped her life.

"I think that's what drove me. I wanted to do better. I wanted to see what other opportunities were out there....and that's why I'm here today, to be able to do that for other kids, that's the same experience I want to give them," she said.