Community program teaches young football players life lessons on and off the field

"It's important for me to be here and not the streets."

Kimberly Adams
July 01, 2018 - 2:58 pm
 The weather might be challenging to play sports outdoors, but a group of inner-city kids endured the heat for the Woodland Community Development Corporation's fourth annual youth athletic forum.

Kim Adams | KYW Newsradio

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CAMDEN, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — The weather might make it difficult to play sports outdoors, but a group of inner-city kids endured the heat for the Woodland Community Development Corporation's (WCDC) fourth annual youth athletic forum.

WCDC provides educational and developmental neighborhood programs for youth and families. This program tests young students both physically and mentally on the football field. 

"It's important for me to be here and not the streets," said Camden High School football tackle Kenneth Smith, who believes he was headed in the wrong direction. "I'm thankful that I have my coaches and my brothers to talk to because they helped me find the right path. They helped me really think."

The weather might be challenging to play sports outdoors, but a group of inner-city kids endured the heat for the Woodland Community Development Corporation's fourth annual youth athletic forum.
Kim Adams | KYW Newsradio

Smith wasn't alone. Some of his mates joined him on the field.

"It's an opportunity to show the kids that we really care about them and we want to focus on skill set but also talk about life skills and academic skills, too," said Rev. Floyd White, WCDC president.

Former New England Patriot Fred Baxter volunteered his time to coach.

"I had mentors and coaches that brought out the best of my athletic abilities," he said. "Now I'm just paying it forward."

The program encourages goal-setting at a young age. Haleem Muhammed, 11, got in on the action, and he's already planning for his future, too. 

"I want to be an athlete in life so I'm not going to be in trouble and do the wrong thing," he said.