In Atlanta, 30% of children live in poverty, and only 4% will make it out. L.E.A.D, a program funded by Red Nose Day, uses the power of sport to empower young ambassadors and help them overcome crime, poverty, and racism. Red Nose Day funds programs that keep kids safe, healthy, and educated. Developed in partnership with NBC News Learn. For additional videos and lesson plans visit www.RedNoseDayInSchool.org
Child Poverty -- Rising Above Poverty in Atlanta
SAVANNAH SELLERS, correspondent:
Red Nose Day funds programs that keep children in need safe, healthy, and educated. Hundreds of programs are funded by Red Nose Day to end child poverty in America and around the world. This is one story from Atlanta.
KELLI STEWART (L.E.A.D.): If you're born into poverty in Atlanta, you have about a 4% chance of making it out. Children who live in poverty just have a different set of issues that they have to deal with every day. It really made us think, "We got to be more than just sport for recreation. We have to be sport for something greater." So, we provide our ambassadors with a pathway to empowerment, to help them overcome crime, poverty, and racism. We say those are the three curveballs that threaten their success.
CHARLES (L.E.A.D. Ambassador): My childhood was rough. Everywhere we lived, it was ghetto. You know, I got to worry about gunshots when I'm asleep, worrying about dodging bullets, and all that, so it was rough.
APRIL (Charles’ Mother): You got to have a strong sense of mind to stay in our neighborhood and feel like you was going to come up out of there. He’d always been a good kid, but he has some-- he was slipping away from me for a minute. He started getting wrapped up in the wrong crowd. And I was like, "Lord, just send me something— just put him in something to just keep him out of these streets."
CHARLES: Well, I was in school, we was in the cafeteria. I seen Coach C.J. He was like, "We're doing baseball tryouts. Anybody want to come try out? They worked me so hard. I came home. I couldn't sit down. My body was sore. It was a lot, man. But, when I realized what they were trying to do, they're not trying to make me better at baseball, they're trying to make me a better person.
STEWART: A lot of times I think we as adults send a message to kids that, "You got to wait until you're grown up to do something great and to be important." And through L.E.A.D., what we focus on is giving our ambassadors opportunities to show their value and understand their value by helping them take ownership of the program. "This is your organization, this is your ambassador program," giving them leadership positions in the organization, internship positions.
So L.E.A.D. stands for Launch, Expose, Advise, and Direct. Internal battles that you face on the baseball diamond, those are the same things that you face in life. So we teach them how to deal with that in the baseball context, and then show them how to transfer it to life.
C.J. STEWART (L.E.A.D.): We have a mission to empower an at-risk generation to lead and transform their city of Atlanta. We don't have time to wait for that to happen in the future, we need it to happen right now.
CHARLES: Everyone's a L.E.A.D. ambassador. Everyone on the team a leader. They-- they've done so much for me. If I wouldn't've had L.E.A.D., there's no telling what I would be out doing right now.
STEWART: What we are teaching them is, "Your communities, first of all, have not always been this way." That's the most important thing, I think, is to take them back to a place and time where things weren't always like this, and help them through the sport of baseball, gain the leadership that they need to get things back to a better place. So they can be proud of it, and make their community better for the generations of children who are coming behind them.
CHARLES: Everyone needs help, no matter how, you know, good you are, how much money you have, how much money you don't have. Everyone needs help.