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Oshner Rush Health looks to bring a new youth Mentorship Program to Meridian

With so much crime and gun violence taking place, Oshner Rush Health has teamed up with the University of South Alabama to bring a new program to The Queen City that is geared toward the youth in the community in hopes of dropping the crime rate. Project Inspire has had such a positive effect in Mobile Alabama Oshner Rush Health hopes to replicate Project Inspire here in Meridian.

"So project inspire was a program created at the university of south Alabama with Dr. Ashley Williams, and it was to address crime and gun violence with adolescents that were found through the court system. They took those students and put them in a semester-long course and then poured into them and found that it was helping with crime drop crime rates," Stated Trauma Director, Dr. Jason DeFatta.

Project Inspire works in collaboration with the Juvenile Court System, which is specifically designed to curb gun violence. Project Inspire has radically improved the outcomes for the kids in the program.

"We have really seen very good outcomes from it, investing in the lives of our most at-risk youth. They come into the program. Historically, it's been a three-week program and we're in the process of transitioning, making it, making it a semester-long program. But so far, our rate of recidivism has been 11%, which is better than most programs across the country," stated Co-Founder Dr.Ashley Williams.

The program focuses on confidence building, employment opportunities, health and literacy, and career-specific mentorship to name a few. Anything that will help young adolescents become the best version of themselves as possible.

"We're going to try to implement that in Meridian, and we also are going to start a program called Project Unite and put that through the city into the Public Schools and the after-hours Boys and Girls Clubs and then also spread it out to the County so that we can really just pour into children, educate them, love on them, and see if we can make a change," said DeFatta.

Oshner Rush Health hopes to shadow the ins and outs of the program to recreate it here in Meridian. The hope is to begin Project Unite as soon as this winter and Project Inspire will be sometime in the late fall of 2023.

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