NEW ORLEANS -- Summer programs and camps are taking a proactive approach to fighting violence in New Orleans.
High School students from New Orleans, Jefferson Parish and St. Tammany graduated from the Crimestoppers Teen Ambassadors Against Crime Leadership Program.
Kyla Walker, who’s salutatorian this year at MLK Jr. Charter School says she learned a lot during the nine-month program.
“We all come together and have meetings about the different types of justice systems and how people investigate crimes,” she said.
Leadership programs like this one provide students with a proactive – rather than reactive – approach to stopping violent crime.
This week alone, both the NOPD and Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested juveniles who allegedly committed multiple car jackings and armed robberies. Crimestopers President Darlene Cusanaza says keeping students busy, especially during the summer months, is essential.
“It shows them the reality about how you have to be careful about what you do as a person,” Cusanza said.
In Central City, camp counselors with the Youth Empowerment Project are also showing kids a better alternative to crime.
“They have a long waiting list,” said Don Davis, a senior camp counselor. “It’s like a lot of kids come here and they don’t want to leave.”
For five years, Davis spent his time counseling and mentoring children in his neighborhood.
“Me coming from the same place that you came from, they're looking at me like he did it, so I could do it,” Davis said. “He made it, I can make it. He went to school, I can go to school."
It’s this positive guidance that leaders like Davis and Cusanza hope stick with these young men and women, long after the summer ends.
“There are mentors there who really want to show them a different path or be there to make those better decisions,” Cusanza said.
Many of the students involved in the Crimestoppers program even go into careers in public safety and criminal justice.