NEWORLEANS-- It sounds like an action movie: Star teams with Iron Lady to change the lives of inner city youth. Actor Ameer Baraka never forgot the challenges he faced growing up in New Orleans, and now shows young people the paths to good careers.
'Here's a young man who wants to work. He wants a great trade,' Baraka said, as he stood next to 23-year-old Rashad Perry. 'He's in the projects. I said, 'Come on, man, we can get you started.''
The Iron Lady is Philadelphia construction company owner Dianna Montague's nickname. Dianna and Ameer are sending Rashad Perry and Sharell Peters to Pennsylvania to see the construction business close up.
'We're doing a bridge right now in upstate, (at) Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, and we'll be building it from the ground up, and I would like for them to experience that also,' said Montague.
'I'm very excited about the opportunity to travel and learn something that I never knew or thought I'd be doing,' said Rashad Perry.
When asked what he hopes will come from the trip, 'Me wanting to be in the iron business too,' said Sharell Peters, who is also going to Pennsylvania.
They're starting with two, but Ameer wants to expand the program, and send young people to construction sites all over the country. But to change their lives, his program needs financial support.
'Some kids have never left New Orleans up until Hurricane Katrina,' said Ameer. 'They don't know what New York looks like, they don't know what Philadelphia looks like. It's a new world.'
Local union leaders say they need good workers.
'A lot of bad stuff happens down here, and that hurts me, and that's why I'm here, to try to get these kids off the street, and put them to work in a good career,' said Ernesto Soto of Iron Workers Union Local 846.
'We got to build bridges and not jail cells,' concluded Tulane criminologist Peter Scharf. For more information of the 'From The Streets To Our Highways' campaign, visit their website at www.igg.me/at/fromthestreetstoourhighways.