(CHICAGO) — The family of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old killed by a Chicago police officer, is creating a "rural sanctuary" for at-risk youth just outside of Chicago in Adam's honor. The nonprofit organization, called Adam's Place, seeks to provide a safe, supportive space for historically underserved boys aged 10 to 14.
On what would've been Adam's 14th birthday, the family held a press conference on Wednesday to announce the project
Betty Toledo, via family attorney Adeena Weiss Ortiz, said: "If he would see me kind of down, he would say, 'Mommy, don't worry, everything will be better. I think about what Adam would say to me, and I think about how to make things better."
"What I really want is to have Adam back," she added. "And I can't do that, but we can try to help other families protect their sons from the temptations that took add them into the street that night."
Adam was shot and killed by a police officer in the neighborhood of Little Village just after 3 a.m. on March 29. Little Village is a predominantly Latino community.
Body camera footage shows an officer chasing Adam down an alleyway. Adam stopped at an opening in the fence and appeared to drop a gun behind it as the officer yelled, "Hands -- show me your f---ing hands. Drop it!"
He put his hands up, and then the officer fatally shot him.
Adam's older sister, Esmeralda, told reporters that her brother was just "a kid who was just learning his way around the world, and he deserved the chance to make mistakes and learn from them -- as we all do. And we have before, because no one's perfect."
Esmeralda tearfully remembered Adam as a funny teen, who was trying to grow a little mustache and made mistakes on his homework.
According to the organization's website, Adam "was a good kid, but despite our best efforts, he snuck out at night, lured by older youths who did not have his well-being in mind."
He was accompanied by 21-year-old Ruben Roman on the night of his death.
Roman now faces felony charges of reckless discharge of a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, as well as child endangerment and violating probation.
The Adam's Place program will be modeled on Boys Farm, a foster care service in South Carolina created in 1960. Adam's Place will be located on 91 acres of farmland, where the boys in the program will take care of animals, cultivate gardens, take academic and personal development courses and more.
"This is what Adam would want: a place with animals, a place to make friends, a place to feel safe," the Toledo family wrote on the organization's website.