Oceanside teenagers are determined to make a brighter future. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.
A new report released Wednesday by SANDAG revealed that San Diego County is home to 158 gangs.
So, what's being done about it?
In Oceanside, some teenagers feel it is their responsibility to take back their community.
In a room at Vista’s Community Clinic are teenagers who are looking to make a difference.
In their eyes, there is hope. In their hands, a promise of a better tomorrow.
They are determined to make a brighter future because for some, their past has had some very dark moments. Just ask 18-year old David Garcia.
“It’s incredibly unreal of how that happened,” he explains. "All of a sudden four guys just run up basically they just start shooting. they don't say anything. They don't say much, they just shot us.”
Garcia was one of four innocent teenagers who were shot while at Libby Lake park in March. He was hit multiple times.
Two of his friends, 16-year-old Edgar Sanchez Rios and 13-year-old Melanie Virgen, died in the shooting.
“I did see them die. I saw them dead,” Garcia said.
Garcia has now joined with his peers to make sure what happened to him doesn't happen to anyone else.
"I try to teach them something other than that gang violence. I try to teach them there is more than just the gangs. There's more than just being in a hood where there's just bad stuff going on," said 18-year old Carina Calvillo.
The teens are a part of Vista Community Clinic's Project Reach Step Up mentoring program.
They're paired with 26 Libby Lake elementary school students through the Oceanside Boys and Girls Club.
"We teach them like respect, dignity, trust and education,” said Calvillo
The teens are taking ownership of their roles as Libby Lake's future leaders and responsibility to inspire change for those who will come after them.
"Sometimes they need guidance and people aren't there most of the time so somebody has to be there, somebody has to do it. I'm that person. I'm that somebody,” said Garcia.
The mentor program is made possible in part because of the 21st Century Solutions Grant Challenge.