Kids clean up to combat crime


A local sports group is making moves outside of the gym to try to combat juvenile crime.

Beyond the Baseline is a program for kids and young adults.

It works with them to become better athletes and better people.

The group started doing weekly cleanups during the spring.

It comes at a time when the city is seeing an increase in juvenile crimes.

On Thursday, just hours after six teens and preteens were arrested for a car theft and shooting, a group of their peers walked a neighborhood hoping to spread a different message. 

“People doing stuff that’s actually good instead of gang fights going on or people throwing drugs out their cops to run from cops and everything, it’s just totally different from what’s normally going on around here,” says Jessica Balduf, who grew up in the neighborhood. 

More than a dozen people showed up for Hoopn 4 Change’s outreach program.

The weekly cleanup started about four weeks ago, and rather than keeping kids off the streets during a crime increase, the program is keeping them on the pavement in a positive way. 

“If they’re standing here talking to us, they’re not bad kids. They get around two or three other guys that are not busy, that are not doing something constructive, they get busy together. And they do whatever they think is cool these days and that’s to grab a car, that’s to pop door handles, that’s to steal whatever they can find,” says Gary Thrapp, founder of Beyond the Baseline, the umbrella organization for Hoopn 4 Change.

It’s a cycle that one 10-year-old says he doesn’t want to fall into.

“What this makes me think of is like the Amber Alert that pops up on your phone, like if somebody gets kidnaped or something, it’s just like someone doing something bad or like stealing a car or doing something that they’re not supposed to,” says Trateris Watson, who lives in the neighborhood. 

“So you feel like when you hear about that, it’s an Amber Alert for you?” asks Local 4’s Tahera Rahman. 

“Yes,” Watson answers.

Hoping to root out crime, one clean-up at a time.

“You keep planting seeds in different ways. You never know what’s going to stick and what’s going to be lost, but you don’t’ give up, you just keep planting seeds,” says Thrapp.

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