At meeting at the Neighborhood Christian Center Thursday morning, the focus was emptying the streets of young people and getting them jobs.
"You instill a principal in the child," said Rev. Herman Powell of Early Grove Baptist Church. "The child does not have a work ethic, and has no need for a work ethic, but in our society, a work ethic should always be present."
The Center will put 300 youth into jobs until mid-August. The City of Memphis gave more than $200,000 to fund the program and employers are already calling. People between the ages of 16 and 20 will be paid $8.00 an hour and work 20 hours per week. They'll also take part in a weekly character building seminar.
Officials say 500 to 600 jobs were lost, many for inner city kids, when Libertyland closed. People who work with kids said that closure was a big problem.
"We cried, when Libertyland was not there anymore because that's where kids went to work," Powell said. "When you cut out that many jobs, it's tough."
Organizers said they expect to have far more applicants than jobs, and plan to build a data base and maybe take the program year round.