Romona's Kids: Coach Sam's Inner Circle

Romona's Kids: Coach Sam's inner circle

We see a lot of negative stories about kids, but a program headed by former Cleveland Browns coach, Sam Rutigliano is teaching grade school kids, to aim high and make their dreams come true. They're this week's Romona's Kids.

According to the latest national statistics, marijuana use is on the rise among teens, and kids as young as ten are using heroin. But how can we keep kids away from drugs, crime and violence and set them up for success in life?

That's where Coach Sam Rutigliano's Inner Circle Foundation comes in, with a special reading program for at-risk grade school kids. Studies show, if children can't read proficiently by the end of third grade, they tend to fall behind, and chances are good they'll drop out!

Children enjoy the program, and can't wait to get there after school. "It helps you learn about reading and how to understand what the words are. And if you don't know they help you out," said Mahogany, a third grader.

"I like it because I can get knowledge so I can go to high school and then to college," said fellow third grader Arnez.

"Kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care, and that encouragement is the oxygen of the soul," said Sam Rutigliano, founder of the Inner Circle Foundation.

"We show up every year, we show up every week, and we want it to grow, now we have two schools, we want to get four, we want to cover all the schools," said Rutigliano. "I would rather do that than win the Super Bowl for the Browns!"

"Although we just work with third graders, I think the influence spreads throughout the whole school because now it's cool to be smart, it's cool to have those skills and show what you can do," said Dr. Gregory Collins, co-founder of the Inner Circle Foundation.

The kids get rewarded with a game of futzol, a type of indoor soccer taught by former Cleveland Crunch player Otto Orf.

"They seem to be having a lot of fun and we mix other games into it so it's not all soccer, and I think the kids really enjoy it," said Orf.

Parents notice the difference in their children after enrolling in the program. "She's a straight-A student, and she won the Presidential award this year, after joining this program, so I'm a proud mom," said Shameeka Collins.

"We are so very proud of our program because we are changing lives, but it is very much in part due to the amazing dedication and cooperation of administration and staff of the Robert H. Jamison School," said Maura Shibley,  Executive Director of Coach Sam's Inner Circle. "We are so grateful to the Cleveland Municipal School District and our partnership with them," said Shibley.

"CEO Eric Gordon identified the schools where the "Aiming Higher" program would have the greatest impact and Jamison Elementary School was named as an investment school, not only for the clearest need but also for the greatest opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the students." "Principal Ms.Cooper and Dean of Culture, Ms. Henry-Smith, have been overwhelmingly accommodating, to ensure the success of the program," said Shibley.

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