The Center of Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation sends its Mobile Learning Lab to the Fairgrounds Valley housing complex in order to help kids stay out of trouble.
Launched in April, the lab comes to the apartment where Rachel Garrett was killed this past December every Wednesday and Friday to teach kids nonviolent activities. The co-founder of the Center of Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation, Samuel Sarpiya, says that the lab is something consistent for these kids.
"We are raising a generation that think we do not care about them. The lab's consistency shows these kids we care," Sarpiya said. "The kids feel they matter to us today, they matter to society and they matter to the future."
The Mobile Learning Lab offers eight computers, a recording studio, two piano keyboards, web design technology and outside activities for children.
"Kids that are in the housing projects feel as though they are going to live her, grow up here and die here," Sarpiya said. "That leads them to join gangs."
The lab gives them the opportunity to start new hobbies. Gus Hall, Director of Operations at the Center of Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation, says these nonviolent hobbies can help these kids get out of poverty.
"It is all about education. Education is what is going to keep them out of trouble," Hall said. "It is what is going to get them the jobs and make them become somebody."
Samuel Sarpiya opens up the lab on Wednesdays and Fridays early and then waits for school to get out. Around 2:30 in the afternoon the lab fills with kids eager to learn.
"The kids now feel like they can come out and play and parents now feel their kids are safe here," Sarpiya said.
One kid who always comes to the Mobile Lab is Jermarion Polk. He lives in Fairgrounds and loves to play football with the organizers.
"They let you do a lot of stuff. I get to go on the computers or play with them outside and I can even sing in here," Polk said.
Nearly 20 kids will be coming in and out of the lab when it is parked in Fairgrounds. Organizers say that it is too soon to tally if they are making a difference in the housing complex, but they do see more kids showing up and more parents giving them their trust.
The Mobile Learning Lab is always looking for more volunteers. If you are interested in helping out with the lab you can visit www.nonviolentcect.com or you can call (815)-314-0438.
The lab will be putting the kids at Fairgrounds in the spotlight Wednesday, June 1 at a Neighborhood Open Mic Party in Fairgrounds Valley.