JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new program in Jacksonville is striving to change the lives of those who are headed down the wrong path.
Jacksonville Youth Works Inc. is starting by helping teenagers and young adults in the 32206, 32208 and 32209 zip codes get on the right track, helping them find jobs and new opportunities.
Javon Williams, the director and founder of the organization, is a nine-time convicted felon. He's on a mission to give back, working to bring in 21 at-risk members of the community, ranging in ages 15 to 24.
"If you're still living that lifestyle, it's only one of two ways to get out of here either dead or in jail," Williams said. "I've had some of my troubles in the past, legally, with drugs and with other things. I went ahead and turned my life around."
Tired of seeing crime across the community, Williams said the three- to five-year program will be conducted in seven phases. It starts with behavioral services, literacy assessments, life skills, then they'll be introduced to trade and construction skills. The program will also help young people get certified for careers and jobs.
Program director Kim Maye says it'll prepare them for a future on the right track.
"Hopefully, they're going to be able to go back into society, find a job with the life skills that we're giving them," Maye said.
The organization said it's going to push hard to provide solutions. The program is in the registration phase and begins July 1. It's being funded by local donors, but organizers are willing to partner with others.
For more information, head to the organization's website.