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Batts family cares for youth

GATES – As Director of Youth Explosion, Yvonne Batts and her husband, Patrick, are well aware of the special needs of youth.

Whether it is emotional support, disciplinary training, or children with disabilities, they have helped more than 700 youngsters in the 10-year history of Youth Explosion.

The Batts family recently received a grant of $6,000 from the State through the Martin Luther King Relations Commission. As Yvonne explained, the NC Human Relations Commission provides services and programs aimed at improving relationships among all citizens of the state, while seeking to ensure equal opportunities in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, recreation, education, justice and governmental services.

"I wrote a grant proposal with the help of a very good friend of mine, Ann Riddick, who works with youth in Hertford County," said Batts. "Her program is entitled the Martin Luther King Enrichment Program. We both understand how important it is for youth to have programs that will lead them in the right direction to become successful, productive citizens in society."

In fact, it was in Batts' proposal to the King Relations Commission where she told of the plight of many of the youth in Gates, Bertie and Hertford counties. She explained that as an impoverished area, employment continues to be only in the areas of agriculture, education and factory work.

What recreational opportunities there are also include churches, 4-H programs, and community-based programs.

Batts' grant proposal also noted that with negative factors facing youth, a large percentage flood the local juvenile court systems.

The entire Batts family is involved in Youth Explosion, a program they first developed because there were no organized activities for their own children.

"We began inviting other kids to come to our home to take part in activities with us and we took them on field trips to places some would never get to visit," said Yvonne. "At first, we observed the kids who came lacked a positive self-image, and they had a total absence of positive role models in their homes."

In place of all the negatives, Youth Explosion offers youth an opportunity to change their situation.

"We also want to open a program to turn Youth Explosion kids into better readers," said Yvonne. "We are planning to take part in the African-American Festival in Hertford County and we will be taking Youth Explosion on educational field trips. In the past, Patrick and I and the kids had to come up with funding for trips like we made this year to Atlanta, where we took the kids to see the birthplace and home of Martin Luther King. They learned so much from it, just as they did when we took them to Washington, D.C. and the Capitol. This grant will be invaluable in assisting us with part of the funding for these educational trips."

Patrick Batts added that the program will include developing and maintaining interagency coordination in an effort to address problems with youth and families in Bertie, Gates and Hertford counties.

Yvonne said Youth Explosion will continue to work together with Riddick and the Hertford County program.

For more information on Youth Explosion, call Batts at 357-1720. To contact Ann Riddick for information on the Martin Luther King Enrichment Program, call 398-8192.