As national crime rates trend down, the city of Detroit continues having a hard time keeping up. In 2013, the city registered almost 400 homicides and ranked as one of America’s most violent cities.
And unfortunately, Detroit’s youth often finds themselves smack in the middle of main street violence, with the city apprehending more than 12,000 young people for criminal activities in 2010.
In fact several families have abandoned the city and moved out, hoping for a more secure life for their family in different parts of the country.
So when local Detroit officials take unique action to help young teens turn their lives around, and to better the city, it creates a story worth spotlighting.
Detroit was having difficulty finding new recruits for their fire departments. That’s when the mayor and fire commissioner tried something new: tapping into teens from local schools.
They started a program for kids in high school that gives them an opportunity to become a real firefighter. And all the kids have to do in return is keep their grades up at school.
Teens from all different walks of life can sign up to become part of a rigorous firefighter training academy. They get up early in the morning several days a week to attend. The program combines physical drills with classroom lectures, and the kids learn about the science and safety behind fighting fires.
They even learn how to climb ladders, use the fire hose, break down doors, and more.
Perhaps even more importantly though, they form a new class of recruits who discover what it means to work as a team. The kids realize they are part of something bigger and learn how to make better decisions in life. Some have even begun to see a positive change in themselves.
The added bonus – the recruits will have options for employment when they graduate high school. They will be fully trained firefighters and can apply immediately for jobs within their local departments.
But even if they decide not to pursue that particular career path, they leave the academy with a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of pride. Two things they may have never experienced before in their entire lifetime.
Here is the original story from NBC Nightly news that sheds more light on the Juvenile Fire Academy program.