By Carlos Correa

STOCKTON (CBS13) — There are many youth programs around Stockton helping students become great leaders and keeping them far away from the crime and violence in the streets.

Youth providers say there are a lot of young people in Stockton with the skills and talent to be successful, all they need is a place where they learn and grow.

Nicholas Sanchez, 23, grew up in Stockton and always knew he wanted to attend college, but like many teens – he didn’t know exactly how to go about doing so until he attended the summer success leadership program.

“You come together, and you get mentorship and leadership training, and then you do a community project to try and improve Stockton,” he said.

The leadership academy is one of many youth programs giving young people the opportunity to learn beyond the classroom. Sanchez worked with several community leaders. He eventually decided he wanted to pursue a career as a community organizer.

“I really like the government, in a sense that it touches everyone. And so I liked the idea of being in a field where you are helping people but you help them in a very holistic capacity where you know government touches everyone in all sectors, and kind of touches in every other sector, in business, healthcare, education, city management so, that really appealed to me,” said Sanchez.

Wilisha Beatty-Cherry, the founder of the organization Fruitful Cherry, works with young people around Stockton and says youth programs are important because they keep teens away from gangs.

“Nowadays it’s not even necessary that a person or a young person has to be involved in gangs to become a victim. We’re seeing more and more of that. Its innocent young people or it’s the company that your child is keeping that makes them a target,” she said.

Youth providers hope teens who participate in community groups — grow as individuals and eventually help give back to the community.

“I’m just all for, a young person who has gone through, whether it’s the trenches or experienced a beautiful life and still carry on and be successful, I’m cheering for them and happy for that adult who came alongside to help along with that too,” said Beatty-Cherry.

Sanchez has taken his experience to the office of Rep. Jerry McNerney where gets to teach interns and work directly with the people around the community.


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