BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Youth participants in HEAT say the program has had a positive impact on their lives this summer. HEAT is a program organized by Back to Basics Ministries to bring some of Buffalo's youth together to learn about the importance of physical, emotional and nutritional well being.
"Heat stands for health, empowerment, attitude and teamwork. It's a three tiered program designed to work with young people in the three most critical areas of their development," Pastor James Giles, the President and CEO of Back to Basics Ministries, said.
"It keeps me out of certain things. It keeps me out of certain things that I would be doing on a Tuesday and Thursday and on regular days. It's positive. It's something positive to do, so why not?" Jada McGhee, a 17-year-old participant in the program, said.
About 40 kids and program staff meet every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the summer.
"We have 40 young, at risk youth who some have come from the court system, some have been referred by their parents, some have been referred by other programs," Pastor Kenneth Simmons, a member of the HEAT staff, said.
Buffalo Police said they participate in the program whenever they can.
"I think a program like that has a high chance of being successful because it's varied. There's so many different parts the kids can be interested in and take ownership in. Hopefully that creates a chance that they want to be involved and stay consistent in it," Buffalo Police Captain Tommy Champion said.
HEAT's youth participants said they look forward to coming each day.
"I really like the program because I met people I didn't expect to meet," Dehajuana Reed, a 16-year-old HEAT participant, said.
"We support each other, respect each other and talk to each other and trust each other," Emmanuella Coiminand, a 17-year-old HEAT participant, said.
HEAT has brought a lot of the participants out of their shells.
"Honestly, I was low key antisocial before we came and now I'm surrounded by all these people who actually want to talk to me," Jacquetta Brown, a 14-year-old HEAT participant, said.
"I wasn't open to anybody, so now, as time went on, I like to talk to everybody here. I love it. I love the person I am now," Rose Carter, a 15-year-old HEAT participant, said.
Highmark Blue Cross Blue shield donated $65,000 to fund the program. Wegmans donated $6,000.