Afternoon is a very dangerous time for unsupervised minors. Research statistics show that the hours between 3:00 to 6:00 pm is the peak period for experimentation with cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, sex, violence, and so much more. That fact alone is one of many reasons why the North Little Rock based Reaching Our Children and Neighborhoods (R.O.C.A.N) After School Care Program was created.
Created in 2005 in a Little Rock Arkansas Public Housing Complex Community Room is R.O.C.A.N., a non-profit organization dedicated solely to children. What started with Mr. Leifel Jackson and 10 volunteers working with 30 children quickly expanded to working with over 100 children and completed with a much bigger, completely volunteer staff. In total, Jackson has impacted over 300 lives. The mission for R.O.C.A.N is to make a positive impact and to influence positive growth in the children and neighborhoods in which we live, while also striving to have safe and productive communities through economic growth, strong social development, and safe environments for its citizens.
Jackson, a former Original Gangster Crips leader, started the organization after spending time in prison in order to warn young people about the hard consequences of gang life and the illusions of glamor.
R.O.C.A.N provides meals, tutoring, shelter and mentoring, and a safe place for kids to simply be kids to 100 at-risk youth ages 6-18 enrolled at 2 sites in the city of North Little Rock, Arkansas. As director, Leifel Jackson operates on the principle that in order to heal the child, you must heal the whole family. Therefore, he also encourages parental and citizen involvement in order to take part in making our world a better place for us all to live and succeed in. Instead of going on to become gang members, the children involved in the program are making honor roll, graduating from high school, going into the work force and the military, as well as becoming better citizens overall.
Leifel Jackson is the recipient of many national awards including the distinguished “Juvenile Justice Worker of the Year Award”, the “Martin Luther King Jr., Salute To Greatness Award,” and the “Josetta Wilkins Courage Award” for his hard work and dedication to making a positive change in communities all across the country. Additionally, HBO created a documentary on Jackson’s remarkable work with the children in the hood. Jackson is considered a walking miracle to others as he continues his personal plight to save his neighborhood and uplift the youth. Without his work, North Little Rock, Arkansas would continue to be one of the worst gang populated areas in the country.
The Honorable Floyd G. Villines, Pulaski County Judge, describes the organization as such: “This gang-intervention program has been successful because of Jackson’s leadership and the Sherman Park neighborhood’s commitment to the program’s goals and the numerous volunteers who contribute their time and resources.”
In order to find out more information on R.O.C.A.N., check out the website here on ways to get involved: http://www.rocan-program.org/#!