Local Leaders Try to Improve Johnstown

By Christian Heilman

Published 08/23 2014 06:04PM

Updated 08/23 2014 06:10PM

JOHNSTOWN, CAMBRIA COUNTY – Badges for Baseball took place here at Point Stadium -- the goal here is to build positive relationships between kids in the area and local law enforcement.
Kelly Callihan, District Attorney in Cambria County, said, "The goal here is to keep kids on the right track."
Oscar Cashaw, the Executive Director of the Flood City Youth Fitness Academy, said, "Johnstown is under a tough situation."
A tough situation that local leaders want to change in light of continued violence and crime in the city.
"We've seen a big increase in our drug overdoses, especially among our young people -- from 2011 to 2012 our overdoses doubled,” said Callihan.
Cashaw said, "It doesn't seem like they have a lot of hope, you've got to have some things put in place to show that people are caring. "
The State Attorney General brought in the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to host a baseball clinic and introduce kids to law enforcement.
Jeff Breslin, vice president of programs with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, said "The goal is to get them connected using sports in just a positive atmosphere and once that happens, the magic of that relationship starts to take over."
"We have a lot of drug crimes, we have seen an increase in violence, and our kids are our treasure here,” said Callihan.
The hope is that programs like this can be the beginning of a change in the city.
"It's my job to make things better and try to stop this crime and one way we can do this is when we invest in kids,” said Callihan.
"Give hope back to the community instead of everybody walking around saying nobody cares, why should I care? And that starts from the top,” said Cashaw.
Callihan said, "I think if we give our children hope for the future, they're going to embrace it."
And at the end of the day, the hope is that these types of programs can bring about positive changes to places like Johnstown.
The Badges for Baseball program was hosted by a grant from the Community Drug Abuse Prevention grant program and the state Attorney General's office.
The program has a presence in additional locations throughout the state, including Harrisburg and Northhampton County.

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