RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A dozen kids from Raleigh are learning this summer there is more to life than life on the street.
The kids will spend the next six weeks learning how to design video games at N.C. State University’s computer science department.
They realize what they’re learning is more than fun and games.
“If I make money off of this, I could get me and my entire family out of it, out of a rough situation,” said 12-year-old Traysshawn Murray.
“It shows me that there is a way out of all the chaos in my neighborhood,” says Imere Hocutt, 15.
The students are all from the same neighborhood – the Raleigh North Milbank Court Apartments on Raleigh Boulevard.
In a one-mile radius around the complex, Raleigh Police said there have been more than 1,500 calls for service in the past year.
It also was the scene of a murder on June 15.
Raleigh police charged Derrick Lamont Jones, 21, and Daquan Tyrek Martin, 20, with the murder of Floyd Lewright Smith Jr., 26.
The same neighborhood has a 10 p.m. curfew every night.
“We’re really just trying to figure out the best way we can to give them the skills necessary and give them the interest in this field that’s going to propel them out,” says Nick Lytle, a computer science graduate student at N.C. State who is helping to lead the program.
Raleigh police are also involved and say it’s part of an anti-gang initiative.
Ezavious Hocutt, 16, says he started to join a gang two years ago, but chose a different path.
“It’s the start of something new,” he says. “I could take my family somewhere nice instead of having to stay where we are now.”
The program also is organized by a non-profit from the same neighborhood called the Give Back Organization.
“There are a lot of cuss words, a lot of being demeaned on a daily basis,” said Ronneil Robinson, executive director of the Give Back Organization. “If you can take them out of that environment and put them in an environment where they can be uplifted and show them that they can be more than a drug dealer or living on the system, then it’s a better way for them.”
Robinson says he started the organization to “help kids get out of a certain situation.”
The program is funded through donations the non-profit has received. The kids receive breakfast and lunch every day they are at the program.
A GoFundMe page has been setup to help raise more money for the program.