Windsor youth centre aims to keep teens from life of crime
Aiming to keep teenagers off the streets, a new youth centre opened Monday in downtown Windsor.
The idea for the new centre started with members of Harrison Memorial Church. Pastor Paul Riley heads the centre, which aims to guide youth into more successful careers.
Youth Embracing Today's Youth teamed up with an existing program that has already rewarded many of the city's teenagers with athletic and academic scholarships.
Riley partnered with Mehari Hagos, who started a teen boot camp in 2011. So far, his work has led to dozens of youth receiving scholarships at post-secondary schools.
Hagos grew up in the downtown and knows all too well how easy it is for teenagers to fall into a world of crime.
"We were able to get out of the neighbourhood, but all our friends were into drugs, in and out of jail," he said. "It was really tough."
Windsor football superstar O.J. Atogwe attended the centre's grand opening Monday. The retired NFL player has devoted considerable time to working with youth whenever he's back in the city.
"Whenever you have an individual like pastor Paul, trying to invest in the youth, that's worth your time," he said. "That's what it's all about, just being a positive influence and a positive role model, so the kids have something to aspire to be."
Riley applauded Atogwe and Hagos for becoming role models for Windsor youth. He recognized there are plenty of other academic programs, such as culinary arts, to offer.
"We are so honoured to open in the downtown area," he said. "It's not just sports, but sports is a good way to draw them in."