By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The scars of the riots and violence are still painful in West Baltimore, where five schools — including Freddie Gray’s elementary school — received money for social workers and psychologists.

WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren with the impact.

These are schools not only touched by the unrest, but also by the surge in murders and violent crime that followed. Each one will get roughly $60,000 — but is that enough?

The children of West Baltimore still bear emotional scars from the riots. It’s an issue WJZ has covered extensively.

“You don’t know if we’re ever on the streets and they’re just jumping us,” said Lorraine Coleman, student.

“They trashed Mondawmin and our CVS store,” said Jaelyn Jackson, student.

“We still care about Baltimore and we’re not going to let some riot destroy it,” said Jaylin Washington, student.

Now, nine months later, politicians came to Matthew Henson Elementary, where Freddie Gray once attended classes.

They announced almost $300,000 in new federal money, split among Henson and four other schools, that will provide social workers and support staff to help students’ psychological needs.

“The president instructed each one of his top lieutenants to be there, to do something special,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, (D) Maryland.

“That should just be the tip of the iceberg. The challenges that Baltimore City has, specifically Sandtown-Winchester, are not new,” said Henson Principal David Guzman.

The money comes from the Department of Education, from their school emergency violence program.

That same fund provided more than $6 million to help students in Newtown, Connecticut after the Sandy Hook tragedy.

But it’s not just the riots that have scarred West Baltimore’s schools — the city’s record number of murders has come unsettingly close.

Across the street from Henson Elementary, a young man, a former student, was killed about two weeks ago.

“Our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, (D) Baltimore.

The children need more than money, and hope they’re not forgotten.

“As it took decades for this to become a problem, it’s going to take a very strategic concerted effort over a sustained amount of time to fix it,” said Guzman.

Some of the money will allow social workers to do at-home visits for some of the most at risk youth.

The money will also provide funding for lesson plans and teacher training.


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