Group hopes to keep kids safe for summer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – School lets out for the summer soon and for most local students it means long summer days of fun in the sun.

But for others, the end of the school year means the beginning of boredom and criminal activity.

But one local group wants to keep that from happening and help keep local kids out of trouble.

With nothing for many kids to do this summer, MAD-DADS isn't sugar-coating what it hopes to prevent, a spike in mischievousness among local school kids this summer.

In Duval County, school lets out June 5th and MAD-DADS and other community groups are teaming up with Blacktop Ministry to make sure families know about at least one option for their children when it does.

Michael Hendricks, a local 9th-grader, spends his time playing basketball and most nights you can find him at the courts behind Potter's House Academy off of Normandy Boulevard.

"This is like, sort of like, my family," Hendricks said.

Hendrick's said he's made Ed White High School's basketball team thanks to the training he's received on those courts and he makes sure to tell his friends about it.

"I tell them about the organization and they seem to like what I'm telling them so they come out here," Hendrick's said.

That organization, Black Top Ministry, has partnered with others, like the Police Athletic League and MAD-DADS to help keep kids off the streets and bring them "back to the black top."

"So they have rules they follow here so we teach them they are not only learning the sport (of basketball), but they are also learning skills on how to conduct themselves with other human beings," AJ Jordan of MAD-DADS said.

For several days a week during the summer months, volunteers like Tyrone Ferguson will continue to share their basketball skills with teens.

"The ability to help them and steer them in the right direction and give them guidance and tell them there are other ways to solve your problems. Whether it's in a classroom or on the basketball court, it all translates to each other," Ferfuson said.

Take it from Hendricks who admits he'd likely be getting into trouble were it not for Black Top Ministry.

"They help me stay on the right track, this is the best place to be," Hendricks said.

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