LaGrange boys avoid gangs

Georgia

LAGRANGE, Ga.- A group of LaGrange middle schoolers say they were approached by gang leaders trying to recruit them.

They turned down those offers and instead went looking for better options to make money.

Four teenage boys approached Zsa Zsa Heard, the C.E.O. at the LaGrange Housing Authority, looking for a job.

Heard gave them one shot to prove they were ready to take on the responsibility.

Heard said, “Listen boys tell me why you really want a job. In my head I thought they were going to say I want some extra money to buy school clothes.”

That was far from the truth, Demond Woodard, one of the four boys wanted a job to stay out of gangs.

“Because I didn’t want to die or be sent to jail for life without seeing my momma,” said Woodard.

Heard was in shock when she found out they were approached by gangs and she did everything in her power to make sure they had money in their pockets.

Heard said, “I was put here for a greater purpose then what I’m doing. So when I’m faced with things like that I feel like it’s my job to find an innovative way to correct the problem.”

Johnny Byrd, the Director of Protective Services at the LaGrange Housing Authority says gang leaders are getting more aggressive when approaching teens.

“Gang members are now reaching out to the youth trying to recruit them to be a part of the gang,” said Byrd.

In an effort to keep kids and our community safe, Heard says it’s never too early to start working with teens.

The LaGrange Housing Authority says they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep kids on the right path. During the school year the boys will be part of their Youth Leadership After-School Program, telling their stories and why it’s important to stay away from gangs.

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