AIKEN --- Stabilizing the Crosland Park subdivision has been an ongoing effort, with city officials devising plans to keep the area's youth occupied and out of trouble.
Some of those plans involve a possible curfew, but others provide activities and programs that could benefit the youths later in life.
Among them is the new youth leadership program funded by a $5,576 grant from the National Police Athletic League, which the Aiken Department of Public Safety's Police Athletic League received Feb. 1.
"The grant is basically to teach kids leadership skills and introduce them to activities that will give them the opportunity to take pride in their neighborhood," said Lalita Ashley, a retired Aiken police officer who is the program director for the department's PAL.
The youth leadership program is designed to teach character, respect and leadership skills to youths who are about 13 to 16 .
They will meet twice a month beginning at the end of March for leadership training, allowing the community to get involved.
"We'll take them to businesses and agencies just so they can see how businesses and government works," said Chief Pete Frommer, director of public safety. "It's a chance to get these kids and teach them things they'll need later in life."
Ms. Ashley said the program is geared toward at-risk youth and is a component the department always felt was missing in their stabilization effort.
The department "identified that young people in Crosland Park need more activities and the National PAL is moving in that direction toward youth leadership programs," reflecting a national trend, Ms. Ashley said.
Chief Frommer said he believes Crosland Park will be stabilized over time by building positive relationships.
"We just have to keep chipping away at it," he said. "A lot of the problem is we just have to keep those kids busy, keep them occupied."
Chief Frommer said the youth leadership program is aimed at "taking the good, regular kids out of the neighborhood who may not have a chance to do these type of things. That would be our candidate we're looking for."
Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or email@example.com.
For more information on participating in the program, call Lalita Ashley at (803) 642-7686.