Making A Difference: Second Chance program

Published: Feb. 18, 2014 at 8:30 PM CST|Updated: May. 13, 2014 at 3:29 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A second chance, one final hope to get back on track -- it's all part of the Second Chance program in Montgomery.

Tonya Barkum leads a group counseling session for teenagers who got into mischief in Montgomery Public Schools.

"I like goals. Let's set a goal for this week," Barkum told the group.

Lakea Brown for example couldn't say out of trouble at Carver High School. The final straw was when Brown allowed herself to get into another fight.

"I wasn't thinking. I was trying to fit in and trying to have a lot of friends," Brown said.

And so Lakea Brown is enrolled in the Second Chance program six months and counting.

"I see now it got me nowhere but trouble," Brown said.

The Montgomery County Public School District started the Second Chance program 16 years ago. It's something like an alternative school, a day-treatment curriculum with an academic setting but tougher in the sense there is a heavy, heavy emphasis on counseling.

"They have a lot of things going on outside of their school situation," Barkum said.

"I learned that fighting is just gonna get you in trouble and I had a lot of negative friends," Brown said.

Rebecca Morris runs Second Chance.

"Sometimes motivation is the real issue, so to get them to believe in themselves after years of failure is a very challenging process," Morris said.

On any given day there are 30 students in the Second Chance program, and there are countless stories where troubled teens conquered their problems.

Fedricas Shepherd is doing well today, holding down a very good job at Hyundai supplier Mobis. That's because Shepherd spent two and a half years at Second Chance nine years ago.

"I am much more understanding now. I think about things before I do them," Shepherd said.

Morris admitted sometimes things don't work out for some of the students who come here. In fact on average about five drop out every year.

"Some just never engage in the first place," Morris said.

Back to Lakea Brown she is determined to succeed in life -- no more fights, no more thinking the world is against her. So far it's been time well spent at Second Chance.

"I've had my eyes opened. I'm proud of myself like really proud of myself and I know I can do it," Brown said.

Brown says she's on track to return to Carver High School next fall. Brown plans to attend Auburn University and major psychology.

While world class athletes are competing and winning medals in the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, people like Brown are winning in a different way at Second Chance right here at home, overcoming the very battle within.

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