(Gun Violence + Young People + Unemployment) x Little Hope = Local Newspaper Obituaries.
As a sophomore in high school in 1976 I started coaching youth baseball during the summer. I went on to coach little kids in baseball for 12 years almost every summer and love each and every ball, strike and out. As a young adult I worked for a local community center in shall I say a “marginal” area of town where gang violence was sadly and tragically abundant.
I became creative and dedicated to finding solutions to the gun, gang and young people doing the wrong things at the wrong times and ending up dead. With the assistance of a local YMCA we created a “Late Night or Midnight Basketball League” targeted for “at risk” young people. The program started at 10:00 p.m. and the basketball games ended at approximately 2:30 a.m.
Proudly for the last nearly 14 years I have been teaching high school business, computers, newspaper, yearbook, accounting to a population that is represented by 85% free/reduced lunches, 7th highest city crime statistics, and 3rd most miserable city to live. Sadly, I have developed a diverse, complicated first hand knowledge of the difficulties faced in difficult times in difficult at best surroundings.
1. Was the program a success? YES
2. Did it reduce gun violence during its offering? YES
3. Did fewer young people end up Dead? YES
4. Was it a long-term program that could make a long-term impact? NO
What this program did show was that given a large, complicated problem of gang/young people having nothing to do in the evening with way to much energy solutions could be discovered.
1. Is there an easy answer to gun violence, gangs, underemployment, unemployment, companies with manufacturing operations in third world countries? NO
2. Is a solution to these impossible? NO
3. Is the solution difficult, complicated, and creative? YES
4. Do I have those answers? YES