Katrine Stopped Some Teen Programs
“They were trying to get me to wear their colors and stuff,” Orlando says in a voice barely above a whisper. “But here, here they help me avoid the gangs.”
“Here”, was almost not there after Hurricane Katrina. But a grant allowed valuable programs for troubled teens to keep operating after Katrina seemed to snatch them all away.
“Here, in the case of the children in Gulfport’s Forest Heights neighborhood, is the Boys & Girls Club of the Gulf Coast. Part of a $1.35 million grant… allowed the Club’s programs to continue even though a massive wave turned three Club buildings into piles of rubble.
Like many kids, 14 year-old Akilah spent a good bit of her after-school time at the Boys & Girls Club… and she remembers seeing the heap of brick and wood that was the club after the storm.
“I cried,” she said. “We didn’t have nowhere [sic] to go. We didn’t have any money. I felt like my life was over.”
Thanks to the grant and volunteers, the Boys & Girls club continues to provide troubled teenagers with hope, with an anchor, with a defense against all of the losses they have endured. Troubled teenagers had enough to endure before Katrina. The trauma of loss on such a dramatic scale can send such teens over the edge.
“Well-documented research suggests the children who endure Hurricane Katrina’s continuing trauma are now even more likely to take on self-destructive tendencies…we knew these youth were vulnerable before the storm and Hurricane Katrina made it worse… “These clubs had a good record of engaging kids in their neighborhoods, so if they didn’t do it, who would?”
By Ann Walker