Cleveland sports program hopes to curb youth violence

Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 6:18 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority and Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio are coming together in an attempt to curb youth violence by supporting a popular football and cheerleading program, according to a press release from BGCNEO.

CMHA and BGCNEO said they will be taking charge of the Cleveland Muny League Renegades - a team in the multi-division football and cheerleading program for children ages 5-14.

The organizations took on the Renegades with two goals in mind - to get more kids involved in the program, and to connect it to gang-intervention programming.

The organizations said they expect more than 100 kids to be involved with the program this fall.

The program - as well as it’s name - comes from former Renegade player and coach Richard Starr, who grew up in Cleveland, and is now a Ward 5 councilman, as well as BGCNEO’s sports and recreation director.

BGCNEO, Cleveland City Council, Friendly Inn Settlement House and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland are a few of the organizations that help fund the Renegades, according to BGCNEO.

In addition to tackle football, BGCNEO said that the league also offers cheerleading and flag football programs.

Starr said blending sports with anti-violence services is a good way to keep youth on a positive path and out of trouble.

“It teaches them sportsmanship and encourages physical fitness,” Starr said. “We need to have these kinds of programs, and more of them, to give our youth healthy safe activities, especially during the summer.”

More than a dozen NFL players got their start in the league, according to BGCNEO, including Heisman Trophy winners Desmond Howard and Troy Smith.

BGCNEO said they will provide memberships, transportation and staffing, while CMHA will provide background checks, security and storage space. Both organizations will be seeking out anti-gang and anti-violence funding.

“It is important for the youth in our community to have opportunities for growth and development that allow them the ability to learn the importance of commitment and teamwork,” said Jeffery K. Patterson, CMHA’s chief executive officer.

Conditioning sessions start at 5 p.m. on June 13 at Dwayne Browder Field, 5077 Outhwaite Avenue, according to BGCNEO.

BGCNEO said those interested in participating should come to practice at Browder Field, weekdays from 5-7 p.m.

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