South Dallas Group Uses Farm, Tough Love to Help Kids Stay on the Right Track

WAXAHACHIE — Cory Crayton stood before two of his mentors, a stolen phone in his hand. They gave the then sixth-grader an ultimatum — tell the truth or they were out of his life. Crayton recalled that defining moment in his life this week on a bus ride with the All About U Tweeners, a group of 25 South Dallas youngsters who were on a very special field trip. "I'm here to tell the kids my story," said Crayton, who graduated from James Madison High School last month. The non-profit Connecting City to Farm organization took Crayton and the other middle- and high school-aged kids to a Waxahachie farm to learn about making healthy eating decisions by seeing agriculture firsthand."They are our future and need to know how their food is raised and how they benefit," said CCTF Executive Director Kris Habashy, 43. A way to helpThe field trip was one of many that the Tweeners program has offered since its inception seven years ago. Created by Frazier Revitalization, a community betterment group, the program's mission is to occupy kids during the summer who might drift into mischief otherwise. "There's so much violence ... we have to give our kids something else to do," said Frazier Community Engagement Liaison Ricky Cheatham.Crayton joined the program as that wayward sixth-grader and became a Tweener success story. "He never stole another thing after that phone," Cheatham, one of Crayton's mentors, said with a smile.Many of the kids on Tuesday's trip had never visited a farm before. That gave 10-year-old Shaddarion Goodwin lots to speculate about as they headed toward their destination."I want to see a giraffe," the Dade Middle School sixth-grader said. "That's a zoo!" her friend, 13-year old Imani Jones replied with a laugh. As the minutes passed, urban streets faded into rural corn fields. The bus made its first Waxahachie stop by a field located inconspicuously next to a Whataburger.  Continue reading...

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