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Communities that KARE: The JK Movement

The group makes sure youth in the St. Paul metro have the resources needed for success.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The JK Movement is the brainchild of Johnny Allen Junior, created in 2012 to help mentor and develop under-served youth in the St. Paul Metro area. 

“We do what we can to make sure they’re given the necessary resources and lessons to make sure that they make the right choices out here in society”, Allen says. Not long ago, he was one of those kids out on the streets of St. Paul. 

Kids between 10 and 18 take part in programs led by team coaches on everything from leadership and responsibility, to dealing with alcohol, drugs and family issues. 

Marea Perry works with children who have experienced trauma through meditation, yoga, and mindfulness. “We understand that they may not be perfect, but we love them anyway and you got to love them through their mess” she says. The space provides an opportunity for the kids to be themselves, to try something new, something that they haven’t seen, something they haven’t experienced. It’s all set up to help develop skills and attitudes which foster a healthier, more productive lifestyle. 

There are usually 20 to 25 youth in a program. Many cross paths with Life Coach Lou James. “We talk a lot about the unmet needs and when kids walk through the door the main thing is to build them up” he says. “We re-enforce those by what I call D & D. Discipline with dignity and so they are held accountable for their actions.”

Johnny has worked hard to bring a sense of community to the neighborhood, some of that old flavor he remembers from when he walked these streets as a kid. Part of that community sense is making sure lines of communication are always open at The JK Movement, giving kids a safe haven, where they can reach out if they need to. 

And when a student makes a commitment to bettering their relationships with peers, the neighborhood, and their school, Johnny and the staff beam like proud family members, “That’s my gratification. Seeing our youth graduate and then taking part of their own journey out here in this real world. It doesn’t get any better than that. Money doesn’t replace that.”

The JK Movement is preparing to offer virtual summer programs, for more information, click here.  

Communities that KARE is sponsored by Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union.

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