Mayor Andy Berke and Chattanooga city leaders are taking active steps to keep our young people off the streets. Saturday, they unveiled a new mentoring and leadership program for teens known as CAP. That stands for the Chattanooga Ambassadors Program.
Similar to a signing day for sports, we were there Saturday as 25 young men signed their names - committing to be a part of the first ever Chattanooga Ambassadors Program.
For 16-year-old Dejuan Scott, a mentor and a father figure is what he says he needs.
"I've had people in my life that have come and gone, and they weren't there for the right reasons. Wwhen I messed up, they up and left," says CAP participant Dejuan Scott.
The Ambassadors Program will give the 25 young men 6 mentors each - anyone from pastors, police officers, and city leaders. They'll work about 6 hours a week after school, making about $8 per hour.
"It will benefit me in school and later in life, and basically how to get a job," says CAP Participant Justin Woods.
Dejuan Scott agrees this program will help keep him out of trouble and he's hoping to encourage his friends to choose the right path.
"I have buried over 6 young men to the streets, and it's time out for that," says Dejuan Scott
"He's going to have mentors, he's going to have someone that's going to hold him accountable as well as he'll have to hold himself accountable as well," says Dee Green, Dejuan's mother.
Larone Jennings is the administrator of the City of Chattanooga Department of Youth and Family Development. He says the CAP program is what these young kids need.
"My mentors didn't give up on me. I made mistakes and bad decisions as well - and life wasn't always pretty. But, they didn't give up on me," says Jennings.
There are 25 teen boys in the program now. In January, the CAP program will begin taking applications for teen girls.
About $200,000 has been allocated for the CAP Program. The funding was approved in the city's budget back in August.
By Jerry Askin