Everybody deserves a second chance, and the Second Baptist Church is helping to give troubled youth theirs.
In partnership with the Department of Juvenile Justice and Full Circle Refuge, the church has been running a 10-week, after school program for three years called One Step At A Time.
Seven students graduated from the program on Tuesday, each earning a certificate, a Bible and a true sense of accomplishment. The students were Desmond Bates, Blaise Cooper, Mark Green, Kahlil Oakman, MarQuan Patton, Jamal Richardson and Mautrice Thomas.
“It’s awesome,” said Bates of the program. “You get to learn more about how you do your stuff. It’s been really helpful.”
Bates’ grandfather Steven Chavous was one of many proud parents and guardians in attendance to see the seven be recognized.
“It’s great. We’re glad that the program is here,” he said. “It teaches positive attitudes and shows them that they can go about things differently. I’m proud of him. He’s really amazed me.”
Roughly 35 students, ages 13 to 17, have graduated from the program since its start. The majority of the students attend either through court-order or at the request of their school or parents, Wyman Pope Sr., director of the Second Baptist Church program, said.
“We take students from 3:30 to 6 p.m., during the times they’re most vulnerable to get in trouble,” he said.
“What we’re teaching them is to change the way they think and act one degree at a time. All of this is done to curb violence by changing the image when they’re young.”
Devon Harris, executive director of Full Circle Refuge, said, “It’s a life skill, really in your face, to get you to think about where you’re going in life,” said.
“It’s to make them think in here, rather than act out in the streets.”