Program aims to provide troubled youth with a second chance through mentorship
PHILADELPHIA - A court-ordered program is providing Philadelphia teens with troubled pasts a second chance to turn their young lives around before it's too late.
Over a dozen teens aged 14-18 report to Philadelphia's Net Center every weeknight and alternating Saturdays to receive mentorship, homework help, and build relationships.
"I used to try to be outside all the time and try to get in trouble with the bros," 16-year-old Kysim Henry said. "I got a bad temper when I get mad, this started to help me with that a little bit too."
Director of Community Based Programs Joseph Griffen says their goal is to help the teens make better decisions while they're on the streets. The program also works with the teens probation officers to ensure all court mandates are fulfilled.
The program recently gained support from the McClain Foundation to bring more opportunities to the teens.
Oronde McClain, a gun violence survivor who started the foundation, says the teens are usually in trouble due to the ongoing violence in Philadelphia.
"People are here for them. They don't have to go join a gang, they don't have to search to get in trouble. I'm here for them," McClain said.
The evenings begin with homework help and study time, then a check-in with staff and mentors. There is a music and therapy studio, and the teens are given dinner. The goal of all the young participants is to have their records expunged.
"To get off this house arrest, this is my first time ever being on this," Henry said.