Mentors try to show kids a better path - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mentors try to show kids a better path

NFL superstar Peyton Manning is among the many donors to a new Memphis program that helps troubled kids get on the right track.

A special Thursday night edition of Crime Tracker tonight looks deeper into JIFF, the Juvenile Intervention and Faith Based Follow-Up.

Guns blazing, a slick JIFF video makes the case for a new approach to fighting juvenile crime in Memphis. The video features comments from Juvenile Court top brass and a respected University of Memphis criminologist.

"We love these kids and there's a lot of great potential in these young people," said Rev. Rick Carr. "Part of our job...is to help them believe that themselves."

Carr founded JIFF in March 2003. JIFF now has a formal agreement with Juvenile Court which gives parents the choice to admit their child into the faith-based program.

"We do have regular Bible studies once a week in a discussion based format where the kids get to voice their opinion and listen," he said.

JIFF Mentors like Tyrone Stewart have a maximum caseload of 15 young men. Mentors visit youngsters one-on-one while they're incarcerated or pick them up from home where JIFF explores any patterns of criminal behavior in the household.

JIFF counselors try to find out what makes each kid tick and encourages drop-outs to return to school. But it's all done with a reality check.

Located in the old Abe Scharff YMCA at Linden and Lauderdale, JIFF has a $3.5 million dollar capital campaign underway to renovate the building. JIFF hopes to help 200 kids this year in a head-on battle with Memphis most vexing crime problem.

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