Breaking News
More () »

Local nonprofit organizes event to keep youth safe during fall break

The mission of YouthUp Inc. is to teach kids how to recognize anger issues, work on life skills, and lower the crime rate among youth in Macon.

MACON, Ga. — A Macon nonprofit wants to help give kids something to do during fall break and help them avoid violent situations. 

The group is called YouthUp Incorporated, and they're sponsoring an event in October called the Shakin' Macon Hoops for Life event

It is a three-on-three basketball competition, but they're also holding anger management classes for people ages five to 25.

SOAR Academy senior Jaykwon Zellner takes anger management classes and is captain of the Youth Builds Eagles team. He says he wants to help keep younger kids out of trouble.

"Nowadays, people my color are in prison or dead," Zellner said. "We're just trying to be better. I just want to help my community. I mean, the killing rate is high right now so I'm just trying to make it better and be better."

The mission of YouthUp Inc. is to teach kids and teenagers how to recognize anger issues, work on life skills like communication and impulsiveness, and lower the crime rate among youth.

"Before I got anger management classes, I used to take off like real quick," Zellner said. "But now I learned how to count to 10, take deep breaths, just be that type of person where I can lead."

Trust in others didn't always come naturally to Zellner, however. He lost his family before he could graduate high school. 

"When I was young, I lost my mother, my grandmom," Zellner said. "I never had a father figure in my life so, I mean, it was really hard growing up."

When it comes to Zellner, he found being out on the streets boring and problematic. 

"A couple of years ago I got a little bit in trouble," Zellner said. "It was bad but in there I prayed, got better, then when I met Mrs. Smith, she kept me on the road. I'm gonna stay on it."

Amanda Smith saw how high the crime rate was in Macon and knew she had to step into action. 

"You've got this large group of teenagers, younger children too, who just don't have anything to do," Smith said. "Like this young man, he's either at home bored or hanging out somewhere."

Smith realized the words of encouragement she would give the kids were something they were not used to, so coaching and believing in them became her life passion.

"The bottom line is them being safe, it really is," Smith said. "I want them to live, not die, and not just live but live more abundantly."

Now, both Smith and Zellner are using the love of basketball to bounce more positivity into the community. 

You can sign up for the Shakin' Macon Hoops for Life event on YouthUp Inc.'s Facebook page.

Before You Leave, Check This Out