THE BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) — An 8-year-old shot in the South Bronx earlier this month is ready to return to school and even suit up with his football team, the Harlem Jets.
But his mother said he couldn’t have gotten there without the support of doctors and social workers at Lincoln Hospital.
“It’s the most devastating thing a child could go through. With that being my only baby, I thought I lost my baby,” Laenise Powell told PIX11 News.
Powell almost lost her son, Kiyan, after a street robbery led to shots fired soon after the second-grader got off the school bus.
“He said, ‘Ow grandma, that burns!’ She turned him over and had a hole in his uniform,” Powell recalled.
But a mere two weeks later, Kiyan is walking out of the hospital and ready to go back to his Harlem charter school.
His mom said they survived the ordeal thanks partly to the support they’ve gotten from “Guns Down, Life Up.”
“Until this day, they have been by my side. I can call them for anything,” Powell said.
The Lincoln Hospital-based team responds in real-time to victims of violence rushed into the ER.
“I get paged and deal with gunshots, stab wounds, assault. I deal with the patient and the family members,” said hospital responder Maria Lopez.
The week Kiyan was shot, three other innocent bystanders were treated there as well.
The city-funded violence intervention program aims to stop the cycle of violence with this message,
“Life is too short. Show the people who doubt you that you’re better than them,” Lopez explained.
Five Health + Hospitals locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx offer similar programs.
“50% of the patients come back in four to five years. 20% don’t make it. That’s why this work is so important,” said James Dobbins, the program director.
His team is not only in the hospital but also in the neighborhoods, responding to areas that have just experienced gun violence to try and tamp down any tempers that could be flaring.
The goal is to help provide a future worth fighting for, with job prospects, education, housing and counseling.
“We can’t tell them to put guns down without giving them another opportunity,” Dobbins said.