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  • Mom and son are fighting to stay off streets

  • A new camera or video equipment might save a young boy from the streets, say officials at Kids Unlimited.
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  • A new camera or video equipment might save a young boy from the streets, say officials at Kids Unlimited.
    Eleven-year-old Ben, along with his older brother and mother, recently moved here from out of state in a flight from domestic violence, drugs and gangs.
    Ben was often physically and emotionally abused before he came to Medford and has already witnessed incredible amounts of family violence, including the death of a cousin killed in gang violence. That tragedy and other devastating conflicts prompted the family's move.
    Mom is now working two jobs — cleaning hotels and washing dishes — to provide for her family. She is barely able to pay rent and provide basic nourishment, much less fulfill the dreams of Christmas for her kids.
    With his single-parent mom working so hard, and as the youngest in the family, Ben is often left without much attention and support. But he has found a place to belong at Kids Unlimited.
    "Ben now practically resides here, seven days a week, eating dinners here each night and meals over the weekend," said Tom Cole, executive director of Kids Unlimited.
    Ben is being held accountable for his homework and other school goals, and has taken a keen interest in photography and film, Cole said.
    "We have been able to leverage our film and basketball program as a way of keeping him interested in school and other positive-enrichment activities," he said. "He is a great young kid and a very capable student."
    Not only does Ben love using cameras to tell a story, his pictures are amazing, especially considering his age, Cole said.
    "Ben has an amazing spirit of creativity," he said.
    In a recent assignment around film, Ben shared stories of tragedies he has seen and began to script them into story boards.
    Cole and staff are hoping to surprise Ben with a camera or video camera of his own to continue his passion for the visual arts, he said.
    "This would afford Ben the opportunity to share his talents with others in a way that will allow us all to see hope despite the challenges of despair that he and other young people like him live through," said Cole.
    If you would like to help Ben, call Carrie Nelson at Kids Unlimited at 541-774-3900. (Correction: The phone number has been corrected in this story.)
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