OAA Youth Initiative

Heroes in the Hood

This program works with system involved youth aged 14 – 18 to mentor them over a three-year period to instill work ethics and a sense of community pride.

Dr. Stacy Moak, professor of Social Work at UAB, endorsed this program:

“System involved youth are particularly vulnerable to negative environmental influences in their communities. Far too many youths in Birmingham live in areas that are structurally disadvantaged and provide very little positive interaction with responsible adults.

As an academic, I have a foot in both the worlds of criminal justice and social work. I have researched and studied juvenile justice and community systems for most of my academic career. Based on that research, mentoring programs have shown promise in improving the opportunities for these youths to see new possibilities, complete high school, become job ready, and become productive members of society.

I have been fortunate to work with this program and experience these youth. Many of them list as their goal for the year, “staying alive.” No child should be concerned about staying alive from one year to another. I strongly believe that providing adult mentors and role models that young people can rely on will provide much needed support to fragile youth during critical developmental times in their lives.”