The best way to keep teens out of trouble, of course, is to give them something to do under the watchful eye of caring adults.
The new program, called “The Rec,” is a partnership among the church, the school, Arlington police and the Arlington Public Library. The church also provides tutors from the University of Texas at Arlington to help students with their homework.
Crime Prevention Officer Kimberly Fretwell said the programs reduces the kids' exposure to negative influences. Many Lamar students have no place to go after school and congregate in nearby neighborhoods and businesses.
“It’s all about partnering with the community, educators and the church, which makes a positive impact for the Lamar High School students,” said Darrell Lanford, the church’s youth and family minister.
Many of the 30 or so teens present on a recent afternoon described the program as a great place to finish homework, grab a snack, enjoy a board game and have fun playing basketball, volleyball and other sports.
Jim Davis, a retired biology teacher from Lamar, serves as a mentor and teaches kids how to play chess.
“It’s a good learning process to make good decisions in life. Today, kids have to make all kinds of decisions and this gives them a step up,” he said.
-Patrick M. Walker