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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City teenager hopes to lead his peers in the right direction.

Christopher Ortiz-Cruz, 13, has developed a business to help kids like him redirect their energy into something positive amid rising youth violence.

“Right now some people are into bad things, doing bad things and I want them to realize that, you know, you can make a hobby out of it, especially a fun, healthy hobby,” he said. said Christopher.

Christopher recently won the Power Moves-KC Shark Tank contest hosted by Kansas City, Missouri, Aim4Peace program and the The Establishment of Lyrik. Teenagers learned how to turn an idea or hobby into a successful business and introduce it to community members.

He will use his $1,000 prize to start a skateboard tutoring business.

“You book me an hour of skateboarding, I teach you, then every hour after that, you add $10 to it,” Christopher said.

He says he immediately fell in love with skateboarding and was consumed by it. But whatever the hobby, he wants the other kids to find their own passion and redirect their energy away from violence.

“Ever since I was little I knew I was going to do something good and I knew I was going to change the world,” Christopher said.

Dr Marvia Jones from the KCMO Department of Health says an unprecedented global pandemic and negative social media consumption have significantly damaged the mental health of children.

“We really have to work a little harder to engage our young people and keep giving them that hope,” Jones said. “Some people are able to navigate and recover, but for many children, early exposure to violence can increase their risk of being the actual perpetrators of violence in the future.”

Seeing that child abuse has a huge lasting impact is part of why Jones encourages programs like the one Christoper is involved in as an option and a step for the community to take.

“We think their preference is to engage in these positive activities,” Jones said.