MOVING UPWARD: youth mentoring program making a difference - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

MOVING UPWARD: youth mentoring program making a difference

Summer football camp offered for kids ages 9 -13 Summer football camp offered for kids ages 9 -13

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A local program is making a difference in the lives of young people every day. U.P.W.A.R.D. is trying to stop community violence by using positive resources.

U.P.W.A.R.D. is acronym that means United People Working Against Random Destruction.  The program aims at mentoring kids in Horry County, by showing them that they matter and that someone cares.

One of the activities offered through U.P.W.A.R.D. is a free summer football camp. The camp teaches kids ages 9 to 13 the basic fundamentals of football. But according to Brandon "D.O." Anderson the camp has much more of an impact in the children's lives. 

"Those coaches become father figures, and can provide structure to those young men," said Anderson. "One simple thing is it's keep them off the streets, you give them something to do, something to look forward to, something positive. 

Anderson said he was tired of hearing about the continuous violence in Conway, and he decided to call a group of his friends together to get to work and make a different in the community. "People were complaining about what was done, but nobody was doing anything, so that's how the group was formed," said Anderson. 

Based in Conway, for the past five years, U.P.W.A.R.D. has been reaching kids and their parents in the county, hosting camps, mentoring outreach programs, concerts, talent shows, and parent and teen summits. 

Anderson added, "We do the gun buy back program with the police department, and other various programs.  We believe that we build strong communities through strong families."

As summer camp winds down, the organization is turning towards back to school. They plan to host a Family Fun Day event, also free for the entire community. "We got the old school fun, like the sack race, the wheel barrow race, egg race, but this year we are combining the back to school drive with the fun day." 

The organization works with several sponsors and volunteers to operate, relying on donations and fundraisers to make most events free for families.  

Sponsors like the Genesis Complex, Sights Advertising, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Mason Temple Church of God In Christ, and Kathleen's Voice Studio, have been sponsors for the program, but Anderson says they can always use more help.

The back to school drive will give school supplies to hundreds of children in Horry County. "We had one group donate over 1,000 backpacks, so we are good with the backpacks, but we need supplies to fill those backpacks, when the kids come up we just want to hand them a bag and send them on their way." 

Families can register to receive free backpacks and school supplies, and get other back to school information. 

Anderson says U.P.W.A.R.D. is trying to positively reach children and help family before its too late. He says the only way to end the violence is by reaching kids at a young age and offering them a positive environment.  "A lot of stuff can be handled if people took the time to talk to the kids and that's what we do," said Anderson. 

He also said there is not enough people taking out the time to understand troubled youth. "People sit around and say that kid is bad, that kid is bad, but they never take the time out to talk to that kid to find out why he's behaving that way.  It could be something simple like he's hungry, he hasn't ate in
3 days."

Anderson said at this moment, this U.P.W.A.R.D. movement is about saving a life and restoring communities. 

"We don't do it for the accolades, we don't do it for the awards, we just want to keep helping people, that's what its about," said Anderson.

Family Fun Day and Back To School Drive is Saturday, August 15, from noon to 4 p.m.

Smith-Jones Community Center in Conway

To make donations and/or financial contributions you can contact: 843-855-9268 or 843-855-3471

You can email Eugene Bellamy at ebellamur@gmail.com.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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