The Salvation Army Cedar Crest, located in Southeast Dallas, helps children score big in many ways. The center provides a well known football and cheerleading program. Not only is the program successful in teaching children skills on the field, but it also is great at teaching children life skills.
For many children growing up in this neighborhood, a life exposed to drugs and gang (street) violence is all too common. Some of the children do not come from a stable background. By offering football and cheerleading practice three times a week, and football games on Saturdays, children and their parent’s can easily become involved in a more positive experience. On any given Saturday, more than two hundred people come to the community center to participate or watch the football games during football season.
Sergeant Rodney Hinkle, officer at The Salvation Army Cedar Crest, says the program is a win for the parents and the children. The coaches mentor the children and keep in communication with the parents. Over the past few years, the sports program has developed into a successful community tradition. “Parents in this area know that we offer the best alternative activity that will keep their children safe and teach them skills they can use on and off the field.”
Meet seven-year-old Jederek, who plays on The Salvation Army’s Comets football team.
Jederek, who aspires to play like Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber, knows that grades matter. The program's rule is, no pass no play. “We check their grades,” assistant coach for the Comets said. “If a child is not passing his classes, then we are quick to help him with his grades." Jederek says he understands the importance of getting good grades. “I am getting good grades and it makes me happy to play."
Next, meet Salvation Army’s Comets cheerleader, Tyranisha.
Tyranisha’s mother, Tiffany, is a single mother living in the Cedar Crest neighborhood. She says her daughter looks forward to the weekly practices and cheering for the Comets. “The program teaches my daughter about team work which is an important skill, plus she has fun,” Tiffany said. Tiffany’s oldest daughter was once a Comets cheerleader, too. “My girls love cheerleading here. This program is definitely known in the community,” she said.
Because of the success of this program at The Salvation Army Cedar Crest Community Center, the lessons Jederek, Tyranisha, and other children are learning will help them and hopefully change their community. The Salvation Army is teaching the young, aspiring football players and cheerleaders how to be disciplined and how to work with other people. “These skills will help the players throughout their lives,” Hinkle said.