KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City teen is hoping to lead his peers in the right direction.
Christopher Ortiz-Cruz, 13, has developed a business to help kids like himself redirect their energy into something positive amid the rise of youth violence.
“Right now some people are in bad things, doing bad things and I want them to realize that, you know, you can put it into a hobby, especially a fun and healthy hobby,” Christopher said.
Christopher recently won the Power Moves-KC Shark Tank contest hosted by Kansas City, Missouri’s, Aim4Peace program and the Lyrik’s Institution. Teenagers were taught how to turn an idea or hobby into a successful business and pitch it to community members.
He will use his prize money of $1,000 to launch a skateboard tutoring business.
“You book me for an hour of skateboarding, I teach it to you, and then every single hour after that you add $10 to it," Christopher said.
He says he instantly fell in love with skateboarding and was consumed by it. But regardless of whatever the hobby is, he wants other kids to find their own passion and redirect their energy away from violence.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I knew I was gonna do something good, and I knew I was going to change the world,” Christopher said.
Dr. Marvia Jones with the KCMO Health Department says an unprecedented global pandemic and negative consumption of social media have significantly hurt the mental health of children.
“We are really having to work a little bit harder to engage our youth and continue to provide them with that hope,” Jones said. “Some people are able to navigate and recover, but for a lot of children, early exposure to violence can increase their risk of being the ones who actually perpetrate the violence in the future.”
Considering violence done to kids has a tremendous lasting impact is partially why Jones encourages programs like those Christoper is involved in as an option and step the community must take.
“We believe that their preference is to engage in these positive activities,” Jones said.