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Career fair offers Baltimore's troubled teens a second chance

Career fair offers Baltimore teens a second chance
Career fair offers Baltimore teens a second chance 02:00

BALTIMORE -- Dozens of youth detainees inside the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center met with prospective employers and schools Thursday during the institution's first-of-its-kind career fair.

"There's more out there than what they're doing to get in here because we have not, as a community, afforded them the opportunity to be able to take advantage of things like this," school counselor Danyelle Jones said. "This is probably one of the reasons they get in trouble."

Jones coordinated the fair, which featured several local employers, Baltimore City Youth Works, and Baltimore City Community College.

"A lot of the youth want a way out," Jones said. "So, this is giving them an opportunity to do so."

"Muhammed" spoke with WJZ ahead of starting college classes online next month.

"Speaking for me, I don't ever want to do this again. I don't ever want to be in the system again. I have to offer more work ethic," Muhammed said. "This is here for us to learn. There's more out there for us that we can accomplish."

The fair comes at a time teens are increasingly becoming victims of Baltimore's gun violence. Eleven teens have been killed in Baltimore City in 2023. Dozens more have been wounded.

"There's just a lot of stuff that's out here in the city that's failing us, and I mean 'us' as a whole," De'vartez said. "But, it's up to us to change that and break that cycle. It's all about having a shot. That's all. That's all it is."

De'vartez told WJZ he was at BCJCC because of a "poor decision." "Muhummed" said he "was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

"Decisions we make in a split second can cost us a lifetime," Happy Hour Heaven Owner Jonathan Joseph said. "So, we have to be able to give these people opportunities to correct the wrongs and take it on a case-by-case basis."

Youth Works Supervisor Myra Mayo used to work at the Department of Juvenile Services. She's now a Youth Works supervisor.

"The children here are just that—they are children who have been caught up in circumstances, some beyond their control, but they just need an opportunity," Mayo said. "We are in a facility that has some of the children in Baltimore City that most need gainful employment for the summer."

In all, about 60 youths participated in Thursday's trade and career fair.

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