This article originally appeared on The Chicago Community Trust.
Laura Mendez has recently gained an appreciation for the ’66 Chevy Impala. And the ’69 Ford Mustang. Muscle cars are not just a new hobby — they represent a life-changing experience that has helped her escape gang life, rebuild her relationship with her father and set her on a new path for a better future.
Mendez, 20, credits her new lease on life to the Automotive Mentoring Group (AMG), a nonprofit located in Bedford Park, Illinois, that mentors young men and women involved in gang violence by teaching them the art of restoring classic cars and motorcycles.
“I’ve learned so much about myself,” Mendez said, who joined the program last summer. “This is therapy for me because it helps me sort out my problems from the past and present.”
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