Emily Baucum, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- Today's children are growing up in a world where it's a struggle for parents to pay the bills. But their futures don't have to be so bleak.
"The heart in my family and Shepherd's Fold," Amarianna Doakes said.
Nine-year-old Amarianna Doakes is talking about Shepherd's Fold Ranch, a summer camp that sponsors an after-school program for Tulsa kids living in public housing. It's called Right Expressions. The kids meet once a week and express themselves through art.
"One thing that we've seen the kids do is just open up. Art is a great way for them to be able to express the way that they feel," Christina Ortega, an instructor, said.
Each one gets a seat at the Big Kids Table, working with a big kid, a mentor who's in high school. Amarianna's become friends with mentor Jaylon Jackson.
"I know she likes to draw and she likes to talk a lot," Jackson said.
At 17, he's taught Amarianna about growing up.
"That it's okay when you make a mistake and stuff," she said.
It's a two-way friendship. The class keeps the kids' learning skills sharp and keeps the teens out of trouble.
"Bad things. Boredom leads to doing anything to find a thrill," Jackson said.
Now, his biggest thrill is helping people.
"I take it seriously. It changes a lot of lives.," Jackson said.
The weekly fun and games have an impact on the young minds.
"To teach these kids that there is more," Ortega said. "To teach them to dream, to care, to believe that they can go out and do what they want to do."
Amarianna eventually wants to be an artist.
"Yes but before that I'm going to be a judge," Doakes said.
Just call her "Your Honor."
To learn how you can get involved, check out youthatheart.org.
For more information on summer camp at Shepherd's Fold Ranch, check out shepherdsfoldranch.com.