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Memphis Rox encourages kids to climb to new heights, stay out of trouble

“If I never saw this place, I would’ve been in the streets," student Jeremy Reditt said.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Rox After School Program, a South Memphis nonprofit, is creating a foundation for young people in Memphis to stay out of trouble. Alexis Quinn started the program as a participant when she was 16. Now she’s 21 and taking on mentorship roles.

“With being in Memphis Rox, you get a friend, you get a mother, you get a sister, a grandma – anything that you want because that’s what we are,” Quinn said.

For some students, the program is the only thing between them and violence.

“If I never saw this place, I would’ve been in the streets and stuff like that but since I started coming up here, I been out [of] the streets,” participant Jeremy Reditt said.

The after-school program chooses 16 students who show they want to make a change in the community. The students can come for free but it doesn’t mean others can come to the gym as well.

“Anyone who is not part of the 16 that were chosen can still come to Memphis Rox, can donate anything from a dollar – it’s pay as you can – so they just donate a dollar to come in and they can still use everything in the gym and they can still have full access to the gym.” Program director Bria McManis said.

Memphis Rox is designed for middle through high school aged students and offers a wide range of activities to create a fun and safe environment.

“We do offer yoga classes, karate, we have a climbing team. We actually do have a mental health center where we counsel people,” McManis said. “We do give back free lunches we also have a closet for the community where they can come and get household necessities anything from soap to pampers to baby milk to bottles.”

Even though the program is not geared toward academics, keeping the students on-top of their homework and out of trouble is reflected through their grades.

“Before I came, I think [my grades] were like C’s, probably C’s and B’s,” Reditt said. Now they’re like A’s and B’s.”

Overall, everyone agrees the safe space is the best part of the program.

“I feel safe, and that’s why I feel like our kids keep coming over here,” Quinn said. “They get out of school [and say] ‘okay, I see Lex’, I know I can tell her about my day, she’s not gonna yell at me, she’s not gonna criticize me [or] talk to me crazy. You got a friend, you got a big sister.”

The program is open to more volunteers and looking to expand their services to allow more students into their free after school program as well as additional transportation services. For more information on how to volunteer with Memphis Rox, you can head over to their website.

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