YMCA to help area’s troubled youth with new program

Published 11:44 pm Friday, March 10, 2017


NATCHEZ — Natchez teens and pre-teens headed down the wrong path will soon have a support system through the YMCA.

Natchez YMCA Director Alice Agner recently named Eva Newson as director for the Community Youth Career Development Center. Newson said she was ready to help the youth of Natchez.

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“So many youth need extra help and support,” Newson said. “Through different interventions, I believe we have a program that can reach youth and make a difference in their lives.”

The youth program, which will be at the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center building on Homochitto Street in Natchez, focuses on children ages 12 to 18 who have been identified and referred by a school or law enforcement agency as needing extra support. The program focuses on helping children who have not yet been through the court system.

Newson said interventions would be based on the needs of the individual child. Interventions include GED preparation, vocational educational training, technology courses, career development, teen pregnancy prevention education, social skills and substance abuse awareness training.

Newson said she has met with Natchez-Adams School District leaders and counselors and looks forward to meeting with leaders in the law enforcement community.

Natchez High School Principal Tony Fields said he believes the program will have an impact on the community.

“The program will have a direct impact on us at the school level,” Fields said. “We are really going to work hard to partner with (The YMCA) so the program will be a success.”

Fields said Natchez High and other schools stand to benefit in big ways if the program is successful.

“A lot of times, students’ behavior will kind of get in the way of their academic success,” Fields said. “As many interventions as we can give these kids to help them model the proper behavior, it is only going to help them in the long run — not only in the classroom, but life in general.”

After speaking with school district officials, Newson said she understands many youth in the school system could benefit from the program.

Newson, with a background in social work and a master’s degree from Walden University, said helping youth is her calling and she could not pass up the opportunity to work with the YMCA.

“I just feel like I have a passion to help youth,” Newson said. “So many youth fall through the gap, so when I got a chance to make a difference in the lives of youth in the community, I jumped at the opportunity.”

Newson, originally from Bogue Chitto, said The YMCA is waiting on final details with the city on the building to be worked out, but that she is ready to go as soon as possible. The program will meet daily from 3 to 7 p.m.

“We are hoping to keep the youth off the street, keep them in school and keep them out of trouble while providing them with employment skills,” Newson said. “We are excited to be given the opportunity to help Natchez’s youth.”