BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A push to get young people to enjoy the outdoors and help it thrive for the future as well.

Amy Yensi has more on the new youth initiative.

The goal is to get Baltimore City kids off the streets and in touch with nature.

At the height of the unrest, there was a group of young people hurling rocks at police, looting stores and acting out in anger.

While they don’t excuse the teenagers’ clash with police in Mondawmin, some say it’s a symptom of frustrations that have been festering for years.

“People might think, ‘Oh, that’s a big chunk of teenagers. They’re bad. We can’t give them anything nice,'” said Jakia Cornish, youth volunteer.

Now there’s a chance to hone that passion into positive change, as Baltimore joins the Interior Department’s “50 Cities” initiative.

“I like it because we get a chance to be outside. Some people don’t get a chance to be outside,” said Cornish.

The community service project allows young people to play, learn and serve nature.

“It’s building responsibility through education. We are showing young people how they can be an impact, a positive impact,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

The program includes a $49,000 grant to help beautify, plant trees and clean up in the Mondawmin community.

“There’s really nothing that we have in this community for them to get involved in,” said Tee Butler.

The YMCA will direct the volunteer program some hope will plant the seed of change.

“In that group of kids that, for example, were looting, I guarantee you there’s a bunch of kids that can go on and be tremendous people. We’ve got to get to them now,” said John Hoey, Y of Central Maryland.

“I think we can start anew and rebuild our city,” said Dajuan Brown, youth volunteer.

A first step in the journey to grow the city’s promise — from the ground up.

The teens will volunteer after school, on weekends and during the summer break.

Organizers say they hope the program inspires young people to have a lifelong love for nature and consider careers in science.


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