Rickey Jackson speaks for summer camp

Published 11:45 pm Friday, May 16, 2014

By Stephen Hemelt

LAPLACE — More than 450 children attended New Wine Christian Fellowship’s Kids on the Move summer camp in 2013, and church officials are hoping for more this year.

NFL Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson did his part this week to make sure church officials reach their goal.

The former linebacker for the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers spoke at the church’s business luncheon Wednesday, highlighting the need for children in disadvantaged situations to be exposed to positive influences in their community.

Jackson spoke of his upbringing in rural Florida with four siblings and only his mother to raise them.

“Sports was my way out,” Jackson said. “I looked at my youth coaches as father figures.”

Jackson said the key for role models working in St. John the Baptist Parish to reach troubled or disadvantaged children is simply presenting positive situations and people.

“These kids will respond if you just expose them to positive environments and people,” Jackson said. “They will gravitate toward that and want to be part of those situations.”

Jackson said a positive environment exists for children at the Kids on the Move summer camp, guided under the direction of the Rev. Neil J. Bernard, pastor, and camp director Karina Portillo.

The camp runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday June 2 to July 25 and includes 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. before- and after-camp supervision options.

The cost of attendance is $65 a week, but many youth in the program attend through scholarship. Wednesday’s business luncheon was part information session, part fundraiser, where church officials explained the program’s benefits.

Bernard said the camp is open to all children ages 3 to 13, but includes a special focus on those who come from fatherless homes.

Portillo said it is essential children from fatherless homes are targeted because their rates of developing behavioral issues, dropping out of high school or getting into trouble with the law rise dramatically compared to those from traditional households.

Those interested in donating or learning more about the program can call 985-653-0008.