POSTED: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 6:45pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 6:49pm
BATON ROUGE,LA (NBC33) — One community group is making a big difference in the Gardere area by giving kids there an opportunity to do something other than get in trouble. It's called the Gardere Youth Alliance, and it's helping to curb crime in the area.
More than 125 kids call the BREC Hartley-Vey Park on Gardere sacred ground.
Jeremiah Wannamaker, wide receiver, said, "What's really cool about it is that when you come out here you get to hangout with your friends. There is nothing better to do out here then that."
GYA coaches host football, cheerleading and tutoring classes during the week giving these kids a chance to do something positive.
Carl Joseph, Gardere Youth Alliance coach, said, "You got to stay on them you know what I'm saying. The type of hood they came from. They grew up the type of environment they see. You got to take time out with the kids to make sure they do the right way and go the right way down the road."
Trustler Joseph, Gardere Youth Alliance mom, said "I never did think this was a bad area. I just felt like it was somebody just need to step out and do something."
Chanea Wannamaker and Trustler Joseph bring their sons to the field every week.
"You see a lot of them come in and a lot of them you ask why did they come [because] they don't have anything to do at home. [They want to] just to get away," said Joseph.
Chanea Wannamaker Gardere Youth Alliance mom, said, "It gives them something to do. It keeps them out of trouble."
Wannamaker says she's noticed a difference in the kids in the area since the program started.
"Before this started,[they would be] on the corner doing things that shouldn't have been done,” said Wannamaker. “You know little kids shouldn't be doing. They are tearing up things busting windows out of apartments that sort of thing.”
"If you ask me crime,” said Carl Joseph. “You know and they always get into something they aren't supposed to get into either stealing killing jacking all the above."
Now kids focus more on finding strength on the field and how to become a better sport.
"They teach you to respect others and to be a leader not a follower,” said Jeremiah Wannamaker. “Don't doubt anyone for their skill or on how they look."
"You see how the kids are interacting with one another how they are getting along," said Darin Fontenette.
Darin Fontenette started the GYA. He says once a kid buys into the program they can turn their life around.
Fontenette said, "I've seen kids that you didn't have no choice but to put them off then you try to work with them now they are almost your best kids."
Fontenette says the GYA works because it builds the community from the ground up.
"We are starting with the babies they are going to stick with us as long as nothing going to happen," said Fontenette.
These kids could grow up to make their community a safer place.
"We are not going to be able to save them all,” said Fontenette. “There is always going to be a couple of them that's going to be by the wayside, but I think we are moving in the right direction."
Right now the program offers football, cheerleading, and basketball programs. Fontenette says they group is looking into adding a soccer league coming up in January.
To learn more about the program call 225-266-4184.