CINCINNATI - As many as a 1,000 Tri-State young people and their parents got new insight Saturday into programs that could keep teenagers and younger children out of trouble. The second annual "Take Back Our Youth" conference was held at the Duke Energy Center in downtown Cincinnati.
At least a dozen social service agencies and groups that provide programs for young people were involved in the day-long event.
While groups like the Cincinnati Star marching band and youth dance group performed in front of Auditorium B at the Convention Center, the back of the hall was lined with tables from various civic and social programs aimed at youth. From Talbert House to Cincinnati Works, teenagers and parents could find out what each group has to offer.
"I'm loving it. Just the fact that kids know they have somewhere to turn to," said Nicole Tripplett, a single mother of three daughters from Forest Park. "These vendors are out here giving them an opportunity and letting them know that there is no dead end street. There is always some place they can turn to. Turn their life around."
The Cincinnati Police Department co-sponsored the event because it believes investing in young people is important for the well-being of the entire community.
"Our youth are critical," Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig said. Craig believes young people are linked to every aspect of our community, from neighborhood safety to the future of the police department, so he says investing in programs for them is important.
The Cincinnati Police Explorer program is one of the community ventures Chief Craig is most proud of. The program is open to teenagers 14 and older who are interested in becoming police officers.
One of the Explorer participants is 16-year-old Jerome Herring of Spring Grove Village. Herring has been in the program for two years and has earned the rank of sergeant.
"It makes me appreciate what [police officers] do and it's the discipline that they show," Explorer Sgt. Herring said. "It's the courage that they give off and it's something I look up to, I admire."
Craig sees Herring as an example to other young people in Cincinnati.
"Jerome is an example of a great young man," Chief Craig said. "[He's] someone we've had an opportunity to put our arms around, to mentor, to develop and work with. He's put so much effort into this work. He's promoted up to an Explorer sergeant. We see more for him. And this is an example of why we want to expand our work with youth in the city."
Chief Craig credits his department's outreach to youth for reducing the homicide and overall crime rate in the city over the last year.
You can find out more about the Cincinnati Police Explorer program, by going to its web site at http://cincinnatipost505.webs.com/ .
Note: Program sponsors say they intend to follow up with families that stopped by their tables to see that they take advantage of what their programs have to offer young people.
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