Community Street Smart Program

Boys and Girls Club
Posted at 5:48 PM, Feb 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-10 16:46:33-05

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Keeping kids away from a criminal lifestyle is a big concern, especially in neighborhoods where crime and violence are hard to curb. One local organization is working to keep kids off the streets with a new community program.

Every parent wants to see their child stay far away from gangs and the criminal activity that comes with them, but living in areas where crime is constant makes that goal a challenge. According to program leaders, nationwide, 35 percent of middle school students admit to being a gang member.

The Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend is trying to get ahead of the trend by implementing a new Street Smart program. It is designed to help young people resist gang involvement and violence. Instead, they learn conflict management strategies, how to stand up to bullying and how to have healthy relationships.

Lee Wagner, CEO of The Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend, says he wants to give the at-risk kids an alternative route, one that doesn't involve a life of crime. Wagner adds, "Heading off any thoughts that kids may have about joining a gang before they actually get to that point. So, we're trying to be pro-active and just let kids know that's not a very positive alternative."

Through a partnership with Leon County schools, staff and mentors will come to schools and spend time with the students. Children and teens learn through role-playing, simulations, and problem solving activities. They will use team collaboration and individual reflection to teach them new life skills.

Wagner anticipates around 300 local kids will take part in weekly street smart meetings.The Street Smart program will give skills and confidence to the younger generation, leading them toward a positive future.