“When I heard their stories about losing their children to gangs, I knew I had to do something,” said Gong.
They joined their forces in order to create The Ingrid Project.
Gong has called Porterville home his whole life and there is no denying the increasing gang population. While there is little the community can do to convert current gang members, Gong believes they can begin with the source, young school children.
“Well, because of the future generation, it is better to teach young children about gang violence so when they grow up, they know about the risks and consequences,” said senior Toni Lopez.
Named after Ingrid Coronel, a 17 year old Granite Hills High School student who died in a car crash August of 2011, The Ingrid Project targets the community’s at-risk youth by involving the entire community. These children will be matched up with community groups and/or mentors that will support them throughout adolescence.
The Ingrid Project hopes that by encouraging and supporting the young students’ involvement in sports or other extracurricular activities, their lives will be turned around.
“There will be a clear line between those who are part of the solution and those who aren’t,” said Gong. “Anyone in our city can help with the gang problem, and this program will change the dynamics of a family.”
Gong will begin this program at Alta Vista, a local elementary school, and from there, Gong hopes to spread the program throughout the city and possibly move it to other school districts.
“I think it’s a great idea that he’s doing this [project],” said sophomore Jed Hackett, “He’s a great person who loves to help his community.”