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Real Talk comes to Nye County

A common problem with youth in Pahrump is that there are not too many things to do in the valley and when they finally find something to do their parents can’€™t afford it.

Each year kids get turned away from Little League, Pop Warner and other sports because they can’€™t afford to pay the cost. Real Talk Youth Impact Program is trying to change that and is now available to Nye County youth who need a little extra money to play that sport.

The program was founded by Sheree Corneil, executive director and is a non-profit organization in Clark County and now Nye County.

The program works to get the youth of the county from ages 8 to 18 active in extracurricular activities. Once a child signs up, the program will pay up to $150 of whatever activity the child is interested in. It doesn’t have to be sports related. It could be cheerleading, dance, or even a class.

So what’s the catch?

The youth involved must attend a once-a-month meeting in Las Vegas for three months. The program’s goal is to talk to kids about making bad choices before they become a court case.

“€œAs soon as the kids come to us we give them the money to get involved in an activity and they can sign up immediately,”€ she said. “I want them involved in an activity right away and I want them to stick to it. The kids will get the money as long as they maintain a 2.0 grade point average and are in compliance and have no issues while they are in the program.”€

This means the kids can’t get into trouble, can’t be involved with drugs and their behavior has to be good too.

“€œIf they fail to stay in compliance, I will take away the money,”€ Corniel said. “€œI don’€™t reward bad behavior.”€

The program has paid out $6,000 in its two-year existence. While attending, the kids are taught how to make good choices by motivational speakers and convicts who have made the bad choices.

The program pays while they are involved in the program and will also pay after they graduate as long as they come back and volunteer.

“€œWe are talking to the kids about choices, hence the name “Real Talk,””€ she said. “We also talk to the parents who have to come to the first and third meeting. I want the kids to know they can become that doctor, or they can become that mechanic, but if I make bad choices, then I will be a felon.”€

The kids come from all walks of life and don’t have to be court appointed and that is because she believes all kids are at risk and have the potential to make bad choices.

“We even want to talk to kids going to Bishop Gorman,” she said. “A lot of kids I worked with in the system were the ‘good kids’. We also get kids from the courts, but my focus is aimed at reaching out to the kids before they get into the system,”€ Corniel said.

Aliza Jackson is 18 and would have graduated from Valley High School in Las Vegas. According to her, she came from a family that was not impoverished.

“€œI came from a decent house. I didn’€™t take advantage of the activities,”€ she said. “€œI was inspired by the speakers to reach out to other young people to let them know it’€™s not too late to change.”

Jackson said she was a kid who fell in love with the wrong guy. Her boyfriend took advantage of her and was involved in sex trafficking.

“The speakers in Real Talk made me realize that I was still young and could change my life,”€ she said. “€œI listened to the felons that talked and how hard it was for them to change their lives once they were felons.”€

Jackson now volunteers for Real Talk and is passionate about helping to change other young people.

“€œI want to help other kids,” Jackson said. “€œI want the younger kids to have a place to go and someone to listen.”

For more than 20 years, Corniel has served as probation officer for juveniles and then adults. She has seen all kinds of kids enter the system and this led her to create this program which aims to keep youth from ever entering the system by showing them there are other options.

“€œI want parents to be involved with their kids and I want to stop kids from entering the system,”€ she said. “€I have a passion for kids and have mainly worked with kids in the system. My biggest goal is to educate kids about their choices.”€

She retired from the federal probation system where she was for 15 years. In addition she has worked juvenile probation and was at Child Haven for 9 years. She came to Las Vegas in 1987 to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She was born and raised in Los Angeles.

In the two years since the program has been in Clark County it has served 349 kids and has graduated 178 kids.

At the moment, kids from Nye County would have to drive into Las Vegas to attend the meetings. In the future she hopes to get a van through grants and fundraising. The program services only English-speaking clients at the moment.

Corniel said her goal is to be national by 2016.

“€œMy goal is to take away all the excuses,” Corniel said. “€œA kid wants to sign up for karate but has bad grades and doesn’t have the money. I will tell the student that I will pay for the tutoring to get the grades up so he has no excuse not to take the class.”€

The program is located in North Las Vegas and has its monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of the month at 1625 W. Carey Ave. at 4:30 p.m. For more information go to www.RealtalkYIP.org.


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