After Spike in Violent Crime, Community Looks Forward to Funding for At- Risk Youth

At the A.J. McClung YMCA, kids get a chance to play sports and socialize in a safe environment, away from bad influences on the streets.

"These kind of programs give the kids something to do other than getting involved in drugs," said Ernestine Ramsey, the General Director at the YMCA.

The Marshall Movers programs there, which caters to at-risk middle school students, will receive $25,000 if the Congressional Appropriations bill passes.

People in the law enforcement community say getting to these kids early is an essential crime fighting tool.

"We basically want them to have a relationship with law enforcement, we think it reinforces that face that we're not their enemy, we're their friend and hopefully influence them to get involved in the good things and not the bad things in the city," said Lt. Curtis Lockette of the Muscogee County Marshall's Office.

The county's Junior Marshall program will also benefit from the bill, getting $125,000.

Those who work with these kids on a day-to-day basis say they hope this money will change the way the community educates its children.

"We spend more money on maintaining people in prison then educating them. There's something wrong with that, we need to fix that, said Reginald Pugh, the President and CEO of the Urban League of Columbus.

In total, $525,000 dollars will be going to five different organizations in the Columbus area once the funding is passed by the Senate.

In addition to the groups listed above, also included are Twin Cities Youth Services, Liberty Theatre and Building Towards Wellness Community Coalition, Inc.