Ferriday couple to open youth center

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2010

FERRIDAY — Janell Edwards saw a need, and she wants to fill it.

Her husband Anthony is from Ferriday, and the couple lived there for a time. While there, and even since, Edwards said she saw and heard of many young people whose lives were lacking direction.

So the couple have started GI101 outreach center at 208 Louisiana Ave.

“The reason we are doing this, just being in the community and seeing a need, being there and going up to the schools, there is a major need for an outlet for the youth in that community,” she said. “There is a need for somebody to help the youth, and we are not just putting something there for them to come and play.”

GI101 stands for “Growing Into the Beginning of Knowledge,” Edwards said, and the goal of the non-profit, faith-based center is to teach youth how to function successfully in the world.

“We are faith-based, but we are not a church per se,” she said. “We are dealing in truth principals, we are not trying to get people to go to a certain church.”

One of the ways the center will help young people is a three-month-long program designed to teach them business leadership skills, from leadership skill assessments, practicing their leadership skills and teaching them things like table etiquette, Edwards said.

The center will also offer shorter seminars for things like anger management, career readiness, life skills and spiritual counseling, she said.

Renovations at the center are currently under way, but when they are done it will have 14 classrooms, including a recording studio, a sewing room, a salon room, a computer room, workout room and a kitchen.

The couple hopes to have classes taught by people who have worked in those areas.

“We are not certified to give the students any credentials, but we will have people come in and teach them things like carpentry skills,” she said.

Using herself as an example, Edwards said she was a licensed cosmetologist in Georgia.

“I’m not licensed here, but that doesn’t take away my knowledge,” she said. “I can teach them some things so when they do go to get their license they will be ahead of the game.”

The center will operate on the 4-E principle, Edwards said.

“We want to educate you about life choices, which will lead you to enlightenment, and enlightenment leads you to empowerment, and empowerment leads you to evangelization, which is another way of saying ‘pay it forward’ — in other words you will bring somebody else along,” she said.

Currently, the children in the program are learning how to grow a garden, which Edwards said will in turn be used in a produce stand.

“At the center of our youth leadership curriculum is guiding them in the aspects of starting their own business,” she said.

Those students who are involved in the program have to be nominated, and once they are nominated they have to complete an application process.

Registration and tuition for the three-month sessions will be $160, and the two-week sessions will be $10 a day, Edwards said.

For more information, contact Janell or Anthony Edwards at 601-493-5958 or 601-493-5943.