The Dobbins Heights Town Council on Thursday voted to allow a newly-formed local nonprofit to use the Community Center to hold classes designed to provide children ages 7 to 14 with a constructive alternative to getting in with the wrong crowds.
The organization, 3D Youth, started when John Carter, owner of Big Dad-Ez T-shirt store in Rockingham, noticed that young kids coming into his store from the barber shop next door were showing an interest in how Carter became a business owner.
“I started this program to show these kids that don’t have to do just one thing in life — you got many options to be successful,” Carter said.
From there, Carter’s friend, Jose Colon, told him about an AAU football program he was involved in which they decided to combine. Together, they could give the kids an athletic outlet with an “education for life” aspect attached to it.
To start, 3D Youth only planned to have one team, but received such a groundswell of support from the community that they ended up with three teams in the first year. Gear and use of the field for the football team was paid for out of pocket and through fundraisers. The mentorship aspect was disorganized, Carter said, because “it’s hard to sit a kid down on the football field.”
“My main thing is teaching entrepreneurship. I want to show these kids how you turn something into something else,” Carter said. “Most kids, they listen to rap music, they’re from a rural area, and they think either ‘I’m going to be a football star, a rapper or I’m going to sell drugs’ — those are the only three ways they think they can make money.
“I want to show them that there’s a billion ways you can make money.”
Now, 3D Youth has four teams with more than 90 kids from the area, with 12 coaches, many of whom are former Richmond Raiders with either college or high school coaching experience.
And with the use of the Community Center, Colon and Carter, president and vice president of 3D Youth, respectively, hope to build a stronger foundation for the future of Dobbins Heights.
“Our future vision is to have our own building where we can house everything in one,” Carter said. “We can have our own gym, our own classrooms, our own kitchen, so when school gets out you can come through there.
“It keeps them off the streets.”
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674.