|Updated: 4/10/2013 5:48 pm
||Published: 4/10/2013 11:38 am
Mayor Dewey Bartlett announced Bridges of Faith, a program designed to engage Tulsa’s religious community to intervene in the lives of some of Tulsa’s most at-risk youth, will return this summer.
"We need help,” he said. “The kids we're talking about in this community need help."
As a pilot program last summer, Bridges of Faith served over 200 children each week in the north Tulsa community. During the program, children were given the opportunity to engage in positive experiences with adults and mentors from across the city, which led to very popular pick-up basketball games.
The Bridges of Faith program was created after Mayor Bartlett began meeting with a group of Tulsa ministers for a regular dialogue on the challenges facing their congregations. During this time, Mayor Bartlett and Victoria Bartlett also attended over 80 congregations across Tulsa to look at various ways for the entire faith community to get involved in the lives of Tulsa’s youth.
Since last year’s program launch, a steering committee was created and identified areas in which children would be best served by the Bridges of Faith program. Because of the success last summer, Bridges of Faith is expanding the program from north Tulsa to other areas of the city.
This summer, Mayor Bartlett seeks to identify at-risk children in all areas of the city and form organized basketball teams, which will then play in a city-wide tournament at the end of the summer.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett said, “We need to focus on kids across all Tulsa. Together, we can positively affect the future of our youth and the future of Tulsa.”
"We're reaching a fatherless generation," said Pastor Tim Newton with Tulsa Dream Center.
He was once one of those boys but mentoring and guidance changed his life. Newton learned how to shave and budget money from a coach investing time in his life.
"We had young men who would tell me,” he said. “Pastor Tim if I wasn't here I would be out robbing houses, breaking into houses, breaking into cars."
Every kid they reach now will keep them from becoming a statistic in prison.
"It's our calling to reach out to these young men and if we don't know one will," said Newton.
Working with the steering committee and the Tulsa Police Dept., at-risk areas have been identified in all areas of the community and the following organizations are participating and volunteering in the program: Tulsa Dream Center, Spirit Life Church, GUTS, Greater Cornerstone Church, St. Bernard’s of Clairvaux and Living Well Ministries.
The Mayor's Office is still seeking organizations that have basketball facilities to help host games. Organizations or congregations without a basketball facility may also volunteer as coaches or mentors.
To volunteer or to get involved in the Bridges of Faith program, contact David Autry, 918-576-5527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.