'I think we can do better': COA programming aimed at creating change in Milwaukee

NOW: ’I think we can do better’: COA programming aimed at creating change in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The COA on Milwaukee's north side is highlighting programs they offer after two people, an 11-year-old and 18-year-old, were shot blocks away from their doors.

The COA is a group dedicated to serving the needs of the community for family and children.

The nonprofit offers several community building programs such as a food pantry, laundry service for teens, and a teen impact program.

The organization said these programs are crucial to making a change in their community.

"The world is ever evolving, and these kids are doing the same, these families are doing the same, and definitely these communities are doing the same," said Nicole Thompson, program director for COA Youth & Family Centers.

Thompson has worked at the COA for nearly two decades.

She said the COA's main purpose is to be a source of light for a community in need.

"There is just so much that goes on in this neighborhood and there is not one particular agency to support it all," said Thompson.

The organization has revitalized their Teen Impact Program.

The program allows for teenagers to gather and share conversation about various topics, from love to what healthy communication looks like - the program is peer-led.

"Leading their space, leading what they want to do for activities, leading what safety looks for like them, leading their meals, what they want to eat," said Milton Byers, teen impact program coordinator.

Leaders hope programs like the Teen Impact Program will inspire change in the community.

"The most important thing is giving them hope. In their roughest moment, they will have hope to get through those things," said Byers.

Leaders with the COA said change doesn't only start at home -- it takes a village.

"I think we can do better, but we got to wrap our arms around them, we got to listen, we got to be willing to do that because they have something to say," said Thompson.

The COA was closed Monday as a safety precaution.

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