LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Facing any childhood adversity is not an easy task, Carter's Crew, a non-profit organization in North Little Rock has been working to help teens work through it.
This year, for the first time, the organization started the "Ivy League Leadership Camp" which is designed for people 12-17 years old who've been in the juvenile justice center.
17-year-old Montez Hardaway is one of them, and he's an upstanding young man who considers himself to be influential and successful.
However, he'll be the first to tell you that his life hasn't always been this way.
"As a kid, my father was physically abusive to us," Hardaway described.
He also described years of mental, physical, and even sexual abuse that would lead him into foster care and down a path of crime.
"I was kind of not being able to cope with it right and so I started moving out and getting into the streets, stole a car, and went to jail," Hardaway added.
It wasn't until Hardaway was charged with two counts of aggravated robbery and hit with a 40-year to life sentence that he decided it was time to do a 180 in life.
"I just needed structure I needed to find somebody that was able to work with me and understand my problems," he said.
This week, he was among about 25 of his peers who have all faced some sort of adversity in their lives.
Lahairoi Collins works with Carter's Crew, a group that works toward educating and empowering children and families.
"We wanted the kids who wanted to make a change and who want to harness those leadership qualities within them," Collins described.
Learning how to cope, mental health first aid, and talks with community leaders were the focus for the teens this week.
"Helping them identify sometimes what is going on with them and what has caused those things to happen, will help them better understand how to navigate life," Collins said.
The organization is still in need of adult mentors for its other programs.
To learn more about the organization please click here, or you can email send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.