By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The surge in shootings in the Twin Cities is keeping a hospital-based violence intervention program busy.

“This is an epidemic, this gun violence,” said Kentral Galloway.

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Every time a young person between the ages of 12 and 28 are shot or stabbed, a Next Step youth development specialist meets them at the hospital to ask if they want support with changing their lives.

“The kids out there have found something they’ve latched on to that they are willing to die for. We have to give them a reason to live,” Gallloway said.

Galloway, the director of Next Step, says it’s all about building relationships.

Once victims are in the hospital, his staff works to show the young people how they can make a choice to stop the cycle of violence.

“Once people show up and their friends show up, they are ready to go back out there and retaliate,” Galloway said. “So our job is to calm down and try to get them to understand that, hey, your life is valued, so let’s not go back out there and do something to derail that.”

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That immediate bedside support and intervention continues once they are out of the hospital for them and their families.

And it’s working.

“When the program first started, the recidivism rate or people returning back to the hospital was around 30%,” Galloway said. “That is now around 3%.”

Galloway says the key to making a bigger impact starts in the community before young people get caught up in street life.

“You can help us by finding a young person in your neighborhood and offering them some assistance, some help,” Galloway said. “Be that helpful hand, be that support system for that young person or whoever is struggling in their community.”

The Next Step program started at Hennepin Healthcare and has expanded to include North Memorial and Abbott Northwestern.

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There is no discharge from the program, Next Step stays with people to help with managing trauma, job training, housing, and other support people may need.

Reg Chapman