U of L football players encourage teens to stay on track - WDRB 41 Louisville News

U of L football players encourage teens to stay on "the right path"

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U of L football players visited teens at the California Community Center, April 3. U of L football players visited teens at the California Community Center, April 3.
U of L football players encourage teens at the center to stay on the right track and avoid violence. U of L football players encourage teens at the center to stay on the right track and avoid violence.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Inside the California Community Center, kids are getting some one-on-one time with U of L football players.

"I've never seen football players literally in person. They're so tall" said 13-year-old Jalautae Johnson.

It's an experience not just about playing games and talking football.

On Thursday afternoon, there was a much bigger message that the athletes were trying to get across to the kids.

"You can be either here or in the neighborhood choosing different things to do, that can lead you down the wrong path. Instead, you are here and you're having fun and interacting with other kids and you're under adult supervision and that can help you steer on the right path," said U of L football player Michaelee Harris.

Last month, a mob of teenagers wreaked havoc in the downtown area.

The city decided to add 24 surveillance cameras to the Big 4 Bridge and Waterfront Park to help stop the problem.

While some viewers on our WDRB Facebook page said that it will be comforting to have them, a majority said it wasn't the solution to the problem.

Jamieca Jones wrote, "The only way to solve a problem is to deal with it head on which would be reaching out to these kids".

Vanessa Campbell wrote, "...use that money to put back in the city...like opening a Boys & Girls Club, or a center to teach & prepare for the work force".

Back at the California Community Center, they say they are constantly working to spread a positive message to kids.

"Apply themselves, stay in school, try to do the right thing on the streets, to come into environments like this to have fun, there's always a positive light at the end of the tunnel," said Anthony Williams, Recreation Administrator with Metro Parks.

With a little help from these athletes, one by one they're hoping this is another way to keep kids on the right track.

"There might be things outside of here that you don't want to talk about. When you get in here you can express everything that you want. You can talk to people because they know where you come from," said Jalautae Johnson.

"It's like a little safe place for them and they can just come around and play, have fun with each other and don't have to worry about anything," said U of L football player DeVante Parker.

Organizers say this kind of event is vital in getting kids to stay away from drugs and violence.

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