BATON ROUGE- A free summer program is now being offered to those located in high-crime communities.
Louisiana State University has been working with the city to help fight off crime under a federal grant and one of the things the city is implementing is a free summer program that has started this week and will continue for the next eight weeks.
For the past two years, the LSU Wellness Ambassador Program was an in-school program that worked with highschoolers at Glen Oaks High.
Now the program is offered free to the community.
Organizers are looking for teens between the ages of 14 and 18 that live in what they call "hope zone areas" such as Istrouma, Eden and other high-crime neighborhoods.
"The BRHopeZone has targets specific at risk high need neighborhoods and so what we've done is made an effort to notify those schools that the programs going on and even reaching out to middle school and elementary schools knowing a lot of the kids have siblings at home who might be looking for things to do," Dr. Tracey Rizzuto, director of Wellness Ambassador Program summer program, said.
The program focuses on nutrition and cooking skills along with fitness and career readiness.
"So upon making a meal the kids learn about business etiquette, how might you set the table, which fork do you use, who sits first at a business dinner... and so we integrate the curriculum that way," Rizzuto said.
As of the time of this post, 20 teens have applied for the program and organizers hope to have 40.
"This summer wellness program is based on a model that's been used on other cities that looks at crime prevention and keeping people active and enjoying and focusing on positive aspects as a means to provide some health and wellness in the neighborhood," Rizzuto said.
The program is held at the Martin Luther King Community Center from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. for three days a week.
Capital Middle School located across the street from the center will offer free lunch to teens participating in the program.
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