Cleveland sports program hopes to reduce youth violence

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio are joining together in an attempt to combat youth violence by supporting a popular football and cheerleading program, according to a press release from BGCNEO.

ACSM and BGCNEO announced that they will support the Renegades of the Cleveland Muny League – a multi-division football and cheerleading program team for children ages 5-14.

The organizations took on the Renegades with two goals in mind: to involve more children in the program and to connect it to an intervention program against gangs.

The organizations said they expect more than 100 children to participate in the program this fall.

The program — as well as its name — comes from former Renegade player and coach Richard Starr, who grew up in Cleveland and is now a Ward 5 councilor, as well as director of athletics and recreation for BGCNEO.

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

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

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

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

More than a dozen NFL players have made their league debuts, according to BGCNEO, including Heisman Trophy winners Desmond Howard and Troy Smith.

BGCNEO said it will provide memberships, transportation and staff, while ACSM will provide background checks, security and storage space. Both organizations will seek anti-gang and anti-violence funding.

“It’s important that young people in our community have opportunities for growth and development that allow them to learn the importance of commitment and teamwork,” said Jeffery K. Patterson, CEO of the ACSM.

Conditioning sessions begin 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 practice at Browder Field, weekdays from 5-7 p.m.

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