Youth programs in west Louisville aimed at stopping teenage violence before it starts
Some of those kids aren't even old enough to drive, yet teenagers are at the center of some violent crime in Louisville in recent days.
As kids play on the basketball court, it looked like a normal Tuesday night at the Chestnut Street YMCA.
"The kids we deal with are inner city kids," said Myah Duncan, Youth Outreach Coordinator at the YMCA.
But this is more than basketball, Duncan said. It's learning better life choices.
Some of those kids aren't even old enough to drive, yet teenagers are at the center of some violent crime in Louisville in recent days. The YMCA is trying to reach some of the city's most vulnerable kids before it's too late.
"The reality they live is something we feel we only see on movies," Duncan said.
Duncan organizes youth outreach programs. She looks out for the early warning signs of violence.
"I deal with kids down to 2 and 3 years old, and some of the behaviors they express you'll see with a grown woman and a grown man," Duncan said.
A string of recent violence in the city involves teenagers. A group of teens face murder charges after a shooting in the Highlands. More teens were involved in other shootings this week.
"People were baffled about a life so young being connected to a situation like that," said community activist Christopher 2X. "But (Duncan), myself and others know that's why we're here."
2X said the Y aims to teach these kids better ways to settle conflicts.
"In some neighborhoods, at the age of 5 or 6 years old, they start to mimic these issues, as it relates to aggressive behaviors and violent thoughts," 2X said.
That's why early intervention is key.
"Once they reach 12, sometimes it's hard to get them," he said. "Even as early as 10."
"You have to teach them why you don't want them to run in the street," Duncan said. "You have to teach them why you don't want them to say those words or why you don't want them to hit. You can't just yell at them, because they're not gonna understand that."
Instead, Duncan wants to help teach kids and their parents through programs like Tuesday night's basketball games.
"Leading by an example to show the kids this is what you can do positively," she said. "This is what you should do positively."
The Y hosts free outreach programs for boys and girls all month.
Programs for boys and young men is at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday nights. A program for teenage girls is at 6 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month.
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