Byline: TIA MITCHELL
Jacksonville Journey's Positive Youth Development subcommittee has met several times, trying to come up with ways to curb the city's violent crime rate through programs that support and encourage those who otherwise might venture down the wrong path.
One thing that has been painfully missing from the subcommittee's meetings are voices of actual youth.
That changed recently when the two teenagers serving on the subcommittee came from behind the table and the shadows of their older counterparts and took center stage, answering questions and offering solutions to the problem at hand. They were joined by three Edward Waters College students, brought over by campus President Claudette Williams, also a member of the subcommittee.
Together, they stressed the need for quality after-school programs and mentors who are genuinely interested in helping young people succeed. They cautioned that the youth of Jacksonville had many negative forces pushing them to do the wrong thing.
Chacarra Berry, a Jacksonville native who is now a sophomore at EWC, said after-school programs like Team Up helped her stay on the right track. When her grades started slipping and behavior problems began increasing in sixth grade, she turned to the Communities in Schools-run program.
There, she studied and learned new talents, which students showcased at periodic Family Nights.
"It wasn't like we were put off on somebody; we were treated like young adults," Berry said.
Berry advocated for more programs like Team Up at more schools. She also spoke highly of the Take Stock in Children scholarship and mentoring program, which helps her and other students at Raines High School stay on the path to graduation. Nearly all of her classmates who participated in the program are in college …