Local youth programs aimed at keeping teens out of the street see increase in attendance
Little Rock, Arkansas – Two Little Rock organizations focused on engaging teens with learning to keep them off the street are seeing more kids walk through the doors.
Kelvin Parker Sr. is the founder of the Goat (Giving Others Ambition Together) Academy for kids 7 – 17 years old.
He says part of the reason he created the program was in reaction to the city’s crime stats. “Growing up there’s always been violence, there have always been problems in Little Rock but it’s not about trying to stay away from it, it’s knowing how to avoid it,” said Parker.
According to Parker, this school year compared to others in the past he has seen an increase in applications, which he believes shows more parents think the same thing when it comes to avoiding violence. “This last time we opened up enrollment we had over 100 applicants,” said Parker.
There was a teen participation boost in his “I Hustle’ program this summer, which is part of the Brandon Youth Performing Arts Center in Little Rock, Damen Tolbert, the Career and Workforce Development Coordinator said. “First of all with “I Hustle” we provide for them a literal space off of the streets,” says Tolbert.
According to Tolbert, there are a number of programs half of which are educational in Brandon Youth, however with “I Hustle,” which stands for ‘I Have Unique Skills To Learn and Earn’ rather its music or production youth up to 25 can discover new skills. “We break down the magic so essentially they can produce what comes in their mind and other than that that energy will come out and if there’s no outlet for it they will be two blocks away from the nearest issue,” said Tolbert.
Parker wants the kids to leave better than they came. While Tolbert hopes the youth he helps becomes more well rounded. “I hope that they are able to create from their heart and communicate the messages that will not only heal them but others,” said Tolbert.
You can go to Brandonhouseperformingartscenter.org or Thegoatacademy.org if you would like your child to participate in one of these programs