Anti-violence initiative continues at alternative school - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Anti-violence initiative continues at South Bend alternative school

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Kids at the Crossing were somewhat surprised by the guest speakers in their class Tuesday.

"One dude had tattoos like all on him, so you know he came from the streets," said Daniel Dowls, The Crossing Senior. "He knows what he's talking about."

The IMPALAs are not your typical motivational speakers. They are people most at-risk kids can relate to. Guys who grew up in the same type of neighborhoods and who have experienced the same types of problems.

"[The IMPALAs] have been through it all," said Dowls. "They've seen a lot. They've seen the negatives and the positive affects of being around thugs and stuff like that."

The speakers are part of a revamped program called the IMPALAs started by South Bend Common Council President Derek Dieter.  Here is more information about the group's origins: Common Councilman starts new anti-violence group.

The group wants to show kids throughout South Bend that there's more to life than getting involved in crime.

Vemario Napper is just one of the IMPALAS looking to help kids in the area. Napper told the kids he had a violent past that landed him in prison before. Now he's turned his fighting spirit into a positive by becoming a professional MMA fighter.

"Really I'm just going to keep trying [to reach the kids]," said Napper. "This isn't a one time thing. I could take 10 years from now, but I'm going to keep pushing, keep going for the movement, so they can say he's serious."

"If anything if we can give some hope and purpose behind the message maybe we can keep somebody from making a bad decision," said Quentin Bishop, the Principal of The Crossing.

The IMPALAs plan on coming back to The Crossing on a regular basis to keep sharing their experiences. Even after just one heart-to-heart Tuesday, some students say the message is already setting in.

"It just seems like the best decision is just get your head on straight earlier in life, so you don't have to deal with all the negative effects that come with messing around," said Dowls.

The Crossing of course is just one of the school's the IMPALAs plan on going to. Councilman Dieter says there are a lot more stops and most of them will have different speakers than the two at the crossing.

IMPALAs is an acronym that means: Implementing maturity, positivity, athleticism, leadership, and attitude. The group hopes to achieve that goal with as many kids as possible.

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