- TEEN SPACE
The Streetworker Program has been a key ingredient of UTEC's overall model from our very beginning. In 1997, the Streetworker Program (based out of the City of Lowell at that time) brought numerous youth "to the table" as a collaborative formed to help conceive the idea of UTEC, a movement led by young people from the very onset. The relationship was mutually beneficial. Streetworkers were looking for additional opportunities to build relationships with young people and reduce gang violence, and Lowell's young people were looking for a safe haven and more importantly a place where their voice mattered. In 1999, the City of Lowell Streetworker program officially became the UTEC Streetworker program when the doors of UTEC opened in March 1999. For over a decade, UTEC Streetworkers have met young people “where they’re at,” built relationships with them and provided opportunities through UTEC and community partners.
UTEC's Streetworker program includes four critical components to engage and support young people who are most often overlooked: intentional street-based outreach, crisis intervention, referrals to community resources, and gang peacemaking. Youth who may be gang involved, homeless, and/or out of school are difficult to reach because they do not seek out help when in crisis and are not registered in school or other after-school programs. Rather than wait for these teens to seek help or become more system involved, Streetworkers actively engage young people involved with youth-on-youth violence, reaching out to youth on the streets of Lowell while wearing their familiar bright orange jackets.
The Streetworker Peacemaking Process reduces youth gang violence by implementing a peace process among rival gangs in Lowell. Each year the Streetworker program targets 6-8 specific gang sets. Streetworkers facilitate peace within and between gang sets by first engaging them on the streets and building trusting relationships. UTEC is then able to provide 24/7 crisis services to avert incidents, resolve conflicts and refer teens in crisis to community resources. Ultimately, UTEC brokers peace between gang sets who sign peace treaties, pledging to refrain from conflict.
Streetworkers also invite teens to visit UTEC and sample its programs that enhance skills, expand opportunity, and serve as positive alternatives to gang activity. The ultimate goal for Streetworkers is to provide opportunities to gang-involved youth that will ensure that they are making healthier life choices.
Community members and partners may make a referral to the Streetworker program through our online referral form. You may follow up on referrals at firstname.lastname@example.org. All referrals submitted online will be addressed within 24 hours.
Parents and youth who are in a crisis situation and need to speak to a Streetworker should contact our emergency on call system at (978) 805-8139. Please leave a detailed message explaining why you are calling and the age of the youth. If your call is not returned within 15 minutes, please call again.
For all other calls and to learn more about the Streetworker Program, contact:
Louie Diaz, Streetworker Supervisor