By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia-based Big Brothers Big Sisters organization today announced the creation of a “Mentoring District” in North Philadelphia.  The organization says it will work with the state and city to focus resources on the 24th, 25th, and 26th police districts.

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And it will provide 157 big brothers and sisters to children in that area.

The neighborhood around Fairhill School, at 6th and Somerset Streets, is littered with trash and broken glass, and dominated by the hulking remains of the old Edison High School, now windowless and graffiti-covered.

(Ted Qualli. Credit: Pat Loeb)

Big Brothers Big Sisters vice president Ted Qualli (right) says neighborhoods like this put kids at risk, “and so we’re partnering with DHS (the Philadelphia Department of Human Services) for referrals of children, hopefully to divert children from the criminal justice system, provide them with a big brother or big sister mentor.”

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As proof that mentoring works, 45 Fairhill students who were matched with mentors from Comcast Corporation three years ago were there to endorse the effort.

Sixth grader Jan Sanchez says his big brother, Fred, showed him a view of the city from the Comcast building that he never could have imagined.

“It’s very educational, it’s fun, and it’s relaxing,” Jan said.

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