Milwaukee – One man in Milwaukee has started a grassroots campaign, hoping to put a stop to the violence here in Milwaukee by involving local young people in a community gardening program.
It began when Andre Ellis started paying a teen he was mentoring to work on a community garden, hoping to keep him out of trouble. That message spread as more and more friends started showing up.
“It teaches me a lesson like I can do more things with my life instead of just sitting around the house and going around the streets.” said Maleak Taylor, who participates in the “We got this!” campaign.
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Taylor is just one of more than one hundred young men, who show up to work at this garden on the corner of 9th and Ring, every day, at 8 AM sharp.
“We gotta be here at a certain time and if we don’t, we get send home,” said participant Trey Jones.
But that discipline and tough love is what draws children and mentors to the program.
“Young people give you permission to discipline them once they know you love them. And respect them,” said Milwaukee County Supervisor for District 10 Supreme Moore Omokunde.
Many of whom, like Moore Omokunde, ending up paying the children’s wages.
“I have to provide for them. I have to take care of them because if it takes a village and I’m a part of the village than these are my children,” he said.
While teaching them skills they need to succeed…
“They know that I come from the same community, the same schools they went to and they truly know that it is possible for them to accomplish exactly whatever it is that they sought out,” said state representative David Bowen.
Dakota Hall works with the teens in the garden and says little things let him know the program is working.
“The best things I see? They’re always willing to help and they always compete over who is the first to help,” said Hall.
It’s tapping into the talent that they already have.
“The kids have the potential in them, right? So that’s what were providing here, guidance,” said Hall.
And opening their eyes to all they can offer the world.
“Where you gonna go from here?,” asked the reporter.
“That’s a good question. Try to graduate high school, get into business, because I know who I can talk to when times get rough and I need help,” said Rishiki Brown.
“We got this!” kicks off their second year of service Saturday and they say they plan to help more than 500 children this year.