PINE BLUFF, Ark. – The City of Pine Bluff saw its fifth homicide of the year on Friday night with a man found dead on W Short 3rd Avenue.
Though it is unclear if a juvenile was involved, crimes involving youth in the city have increased, which has people stepping up to change that one kid at a time.
Crime is a topic that Pine Bluff is all too familiar with, and crime involving youth keeps Ward 4 City Councilman Bruce Luckett awake at night.
“It’s something that really distresses us as a community,” Luckett said. “My theory is anybody that touches a child should try to reel that child in the most positive direction as possible.”
One program that’s been designed to help kids become better citizens is the city’s Chamber of Commerce’s Junior Leadership Program.
“It teaches them different things as far as lifestyle skills, resumes and job interviews, even down to table-setting etiquette,” Jamal Gordon of Pine Bluff’s Chamber of Commerce says. “Exposing them to the better side of life instead of being around different crime areas.”
For White Hall High School students Ryan Bullard and Jacob Pham, the program is essential for learning leadership skills, spreading love and raising the bar for future generations.
“Just being kind and helping the people that are in need and just being a good friend because a lot of people need those,” Bullard explains.
While it may take a village to raise a child, in the case of a community like Pine Bluff, it takes an entire city.
“You may not learn everything from your parents. You may not learn everything from your teachers. You may not learn everything from your peers, and you may not learn everything from us but in each aspect, you are different things,” Gordon says.
If you’d like to get your high school student involved in this program, stop by the Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce and fill out an application.