Building stronger men: How a Cleveland man hopes to get teens off the streets

Published: Jul. 7, 2023 at 4:45 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A Cleveland man is encouraging city kids to put down the gun and pick up a hammer as a way to combat street violence.

James Singleton, also known as Saint, built the program to bring in Cleveland teens that may resort to illegal behaviors as a way to make money.

“I wanted to get these kids in here because around 12 years old that’s when you start wanting your own money. If you don’t give these kids something to do around that age, they’ll find something in the streets to do,” Singleton said.

He said he was that 12-year-old boy once, and ended up doing three years in prison for selling drugs.

“There are so many things we’re not learning in this Glenville neighborhood. We’re not learning how to de-escalate situations when things occur,” he said. “A lot of our kids are losing their lives to gun violence because of disrespect.”

Three days a week, kids pour into the event center on 105th Street in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood.

Boys in the program are pushed to be successful young men by learning trades as teenagers.

Some say that taking part has made them want to be better in other parts of their lives.

“It means a lot to me because I really only been getting good grades in school but I just wanted to work on making some money so I can help my mom like pay some bills,” Ryan Wilford, a program student, said.

Singleton said he’s made money since entering a trades, and that the boys can too.

“I got a trade program that I offer for free for anybody that likes to come just get their kids acclimated and doing something. This is a skill that they can learn,” Singleton said.

The program has become so popular, organizers are considering starting an after school program.