NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Some local teenagers are doing their part to combat crime. They call themselves “Teens With A Purpose” and they are working very hard to keep the streets safe.
The organization started in a local church in 1996 and in 2007, became a non-profit.
“We are headed over to Young Terrace,” said Dayana Lee.
10 On Your Side caught up with the “Teens With a Purpose” on their weekly walk through area neighborhoods.
“The more and more we create relationships, the less and less there is for crimes to happen,” Nia Naomi Johnson added.
The teens go from door to door, selling their message.
“It feels good, because they are real people,” Lee said. “It’s not just stuff that you see on TV. It just feels good to have real conversations and really break those barriers.”
They walk every Monday through the areas that are the most of risk for crime.
“We do it as often as possible, because we want to engage the community,” Johnson said. “We want to let people know that we are here and that we are present. Young people aren’t just out here with idle time and we are actually putting our passion to work.”
“This is where I’m from,” Lee added.
Lee knows the streets and knows why this is so important.
“Everything helps,” Lee said. “Maybe it’s not big. Maybe they don’t see it, but everything helps. This is what really makes a difference.”
The teenagers look to recruit other children into joining the group. When they are not walking the streets, they are at the center, at 700 E. Olney Road, discovering talents.
“We want to get the little kids into singing and dancing,” Jonson added. “If they are good artists we give them space to draw. We want to do everything we can let them know that they have a gift.”
Teens With a Purpose also offers summer and after school camps for kids.
The program has been so successful, it was one of the major reasons Norfolk was named the 2016 All American City.