Officials break ground on Inspiration Center for youth
BATON ROUGE - On Tuesday shovels moved dirt to symbolize the beginning of a new opportunity for Baton Rouge youth.
"We know that our children too often lack safe spaces and the opportunity to engage in constructive, positive activities," Governor John Bel Edwards said. "That's what this is about. And the truth is, it's not rocket science. You just have to make a commitment to do it."
Dozens of local and state leaders gathered to officially break ground on what they hope will turn kids away from a life of crime.
The Inspiration Center at Howell Park will use technology, education, sports and mentorship to engage local children, while also providing services to families.
"Education, mental health, substance abuse, all those issues that are really the core issues that are directly tied to crime--that's what this inspiration center does. It helps deal with those core issues," Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said.
Officials say similar centers in Atlanta and Wisconsin have seen amazing results, reducing crime in neighborhoods surrounding the facilities. State and local authorities are hoping the same can happen in the capital city.
Construction will begin once the recreation center, swimming pool and pool house next door are complete.
The project is a collaboration involving several state agencies, but is the brain child of Clay Young and State Police Colonel Lamar Davis.
"The center is going to be a phenomenal project, but it's also going to give us the opportunity to impact lives, grow people and give the opportunities and access to resources that they otherwise would not have access too," Davis said.
The center will be funded through private donations and a $5 million contribution coming out of the state budget.
Eventually they hope to build more centers like this across the state.