YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Fighting Little Redmen is more than just a football team — it’s a way for parents and coaches to provide a safe space for children in Youngstown.
“That’s our primary goal is to keep these kids entertained, keep them, you know, in something, and off the streets,” said Shay Henderson, an administrator for the Fighting Little Redmen.
The Fighting Little Redmen works with kids from ages 6-14. Henderson said they do more than just learn how to play football.
“Teamwork, dedication, exercise. They are somewhere safe, together, instead of being out in the streets, you know, getting in trouble,” Henderson said.
Recently, the city has seen several kids directly impacted by violence. The most recent was 16-year-old Isaiah Walker, who was killed while playing at Homestead Park on the South Side.
Henderson says it’s important to provide kids with a positive, productive environment to help guide them and keep them safe.
“Hopefully, you know, we’re working with people who care about themselves, care about the children to where they’re not bringing that type of stuff to the field,” said Qua Hampton, an administrator with the Fighting Little Redmen.
“Leave that at home, don’t bring it to the field where this is their safety net. You know, we keep them safe while they’re in our presence,” Henderson said.
On Sunday, the Little Redmen held its opening registration at Ipes Park in Youngstown. Originally it was going to be held at Homestead Park, but a Stop the Violence rally was being held there at the same time.
“Maybe if we can create a safe zone for the kids, then more people will wanna come out and put their kids in sports and feel comfortable because they know, like this is a safe zone when my kid comes here,” said Lavonte Powell, head of the cheer program.
Powell says she’s opening the cheer program up for even the younger kids to join.
“It’s so many 3 and 4-year-olds that they try and say, ‘Oh they’re too young to cheer, but they really cheering,'” she said.
Henderson says there’s still time for kids to sign up and be a part of the team. Anyone interested can reach out to them on Facebook.