New study shows Louisiana has most at-risk youth in the country
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A new study suggests Louisiana has the most at-risk youths compared to the rest of the country.
The 2021 Study done by WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 15 key indicators of youth risk. Some of those factors included youths without a high school diploma, obesity, drug use, poverty, and homelessness.
Leaders in Baton Rouge have already taken notice and are putting the wheels in motion to tackle the problem.
“It’s certainly alarming that we’re yet again on top of a list that’s not a good list,” said Rep. C. Denise Marcelle.
Marcelle said it’s a troubling problem but she believes she has an idea to fix it.
“You can’t change a child or anyone for that matter unless you can reach their heart,” explained Marcelle.
That idea is a new group she launched called C.H.A.N.G.E. The group will address the lack of education, provide skillsets, create employment opportunities, and provide insight into where a life of crime will lead.
Several agencies such as the Department of Corrections and the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office have jumped on board with the project, including area advocate Reggie Morgan.
Morgan is a former gang member, was shot four times, and served time in prison. He said he knows firsthand just how quickly life can change without any sense of direction.
“I feel like I should’ve been dead and it’s a lot of the youth now that should’ve been dead or in prison but God spared me,” said Morgan.
He took his experience and created Let It S.L.I.D.E.
Morgan and his team launched this program to help fight gun violence in Baton Rouge while creating new and constructive opportunities that he believes will help get kids off the street and possibly save lives.
In his building that sits at 2236 N Foster Street, they’ve set up a tutoring station, a computer lab, a recording booth, a photography studio, and a chop shop. Morgan said they plan to teach skills such as managing a business, owning your own masters, building a house, and much more.
“We have to teach them how to get credit, we have to take them places, get them out of that environment, show them they can own a house, and that there’s more out there for you,” added Morgan.
The setup isn’t complete just yet but he knows this will work when it’s up and running.
“I know it will. I know it will. The reason why I know it will is because God told me. He told me to lay down my life. It will work for who it will work for. I’m not saying it’s going to save everyone but it’s going to work for who it was meant for,” emphasized Morgan.
Marcelle agrees and believes all they need to touch is one.
“We’re not going to be able to save everyone but if we save one, then that’s enough,” said Marcelle.
Marcelle added she’s also working with the Department of Corrections to see if she can get time reduced for some of the young people by participating in her program.
For more information on C.H.A.N.G.E., you can contact Marcelle’s office at 225-359-9362.
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