Officer Al Cruz spent 20 years as an Army Ranger. In 2003, he joined the police force, and last summer he started a soccer league, aimed at reaching out to at-risk youth. Every Monday evening he can be seen in a Springfield, Virginia gym, trying to hold his own against a group of middle school students.
After the match, he assembles the players on the bleachers. Each opportunity to connect may be his last ... He starts talking about drugs and gangs. Most of these boys aren't into drugs gangs, but a few are on the edge. (Source: The Washington Post)
Cruz worries that, as winter gives way to spring, Monday night soccer will lose its appeal and the kids will be back on the streets. The first day of summer soccer arrives, with torrential rain and gusty winds. But 40 kids show up anyway. Forty kids in the rain, Cruz calculates, means 200 kids on a sunny day. Two hundred kids staying out of trouble and learning to be part of a team.
Officer Cruz's effort is the latest in a long line of mentoring programs
that have been established to provide guidance, direction, and motivation for troubled or at-risk adolescents and teenagers.
Labels: sports, mentoring, teenagers, adolescent
Posted By: Aspen/CRC 0 Comments