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Program provides incentives to youths



Published: Sun, November 18, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



About half of the participants just want to help, the pastor said.

By D.A. WILKINSON

VINDICATOR RELIGION WRITER

WARREN -- Mowing grass, raking leaves and shoveling snow in return for the opportunity to make music.

Who would have thought of it?

Wil C. Harris Jr. did.

His innovative program aids those who need help taking care of their property, as well as those with a creative bent.

The youths and adults who help others will have the opportunity to record music, either for fun or because they dream of a career in the music industry.

Harris is coordinator of leadership development of Youth Build Trumbull County, a division of Trumbull County Metropolitan Housing Authority.

"We're about change in the community. Either you're part of the problem or part of the solution," said Harris. "What we get is to make a difference in the community."

Under the plan, people who work for one hour get one hour in the recording studio.

Attracting kids: Harris said music is important to kids. "One of the eye catchers, even before sports, is music," he said.

Many programs make plans for young adults, "and never find out what they want. This is win-win for everybody," Harris said.

Asking participants to help others is a natural, he said.

"Everyone can relate to community service," Harris added.

Programs: The lawn-care service has shut down for the year, but since June, participants have worked at homes of the elderly or disabled every other Sunday.

The list of homes that needed care was compiled through fliers distributed to area churches, stores and civic groups.

There's no cost to those who are helped. Tools, gas and a van came from the housing authority or Youth Build.

Participants: Harris said 23 people, ages 15 to 27, have been taking part. "Some don't want to do any studio time, they just like helping," he said.

About 15 participants are interested in recording.

"It's an opportunity to work toward something and that's what life is all about," the coordinator said.

The majority of helpers are inner-city youths who, Harris said, "haven't had an opportunity to better themselves."

The coordinator, among other things, compliments the participants and thanks them for their help.

"I'm not expecting them to fail, but I'm expecting them to succeed," Harris said.

The participants were in a studio for the first time recently to familiarize themselves with the equipment and discuss what kind of music they like and what they want to do.

The youths met at J & amp;J Affiliation, a religious recording studio affiliated with York Avenue Church of God, said its pastor, the Rev. Johnny Graham.

Still, the pastor said, the program is more a community improvement project than a religious one.

Since news of the program got out, Harris said, more musicians have offered to provide their musical or recording talents.

"This is the ultimate synergy. We've got lightning in a bottle," he said.

wilkinson@vindy.com




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