Nonprofit starts Watts kids on road to college

WATTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Even though it's a hot and sticky day in Watts, Coach Derek Locklear and his team are giving kids a little extra time with sport skills and studies.

"So we work with the teachers to help those children who really, really need extra special help," said Locklear.

Locklear's "Coach Derek" program is successful, but it's his "Let's Give Them a Shot" program that he is most passionate about.

It's a non-profit that gives second graders and older kids help in the classroom as well as on the field.

Jerson Ramirez, who went through Locklear's coaching program, grew up in South Los Angeles, so he understands the challenges of growing up in the area.

"I don't want to blame the teachers, but sometimes they don't hire people who have the experience, the time," said Ramirez, who enjoys teaching.

"We're meeting children in the second, third and fourth grade that just don't know their letters. If you don't know your letters, then how are you going to read?" asked Locklear.

In order for children to be good in sports and make a team, they have to be good in education. Coach Derek says all it takes is for parents to read to their kids about 21 minutes a night.

"Studies have shown that parents who went to college read to their children for 21 minutes. That is going to get your child above reading level," said Locklear.

Locklear encourages parents to imagine how frustrating it would be if reading is difficult at such a young age. It may manifest into withdrawal, then anger, he said.

He encourages parents to not only read, but listen and have conversations so kids are better prepared in school.

Their goal is to see these second graders go to college. So far, progress is good.

"We've seen 100 percent growth in their reading capabilities, their self esteem, their confidence, their conduct," said Locklear.

Like most non-profits, "Let's Give Them a Shot" hopes to get the funding they need to keep this dream alive.
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