Person of the Week: Winslow Forbes

DURHAM Their leader is Durham police captain Winslow Forbes. He says he was called to reach out to troubled youth he saw on the job.

"When you talk to them, you realize a lot of our young people, they really want help," he explained.

Since 2003, Captain Forbes has run a summer military boot camp for kids considered "at-risk". It's 40-days of tough love away from home.

"If you have a cadet [and] they talk the wrong way to an instructor, they may have to do pushups, sit ups, and we teach them to work together as a group," said Forbes.

The kids range in age from 10 to 15. Some have trouble in school. Others have trouble on the street. Gang members are common here.

"We have had in the past Crips and Bloods that's been in the same camp. And what we do, we're actually putting them up together, and make it clear to them that you're going to have to depend on your fellow cadet to get through this program," Forbes explained.

Forbes says the boot camp changes the kids, but true success comes from follow-up. Cadets meet every week through the school year and are checked on at home too.

At a recent session at Durham PD, a group trained to lead next year's boot camp. They know first-hand how hard it is.

"At first, I really didn't want to do it. I just thought those 40 days were never going to get over," said participant Ray DeBerry.

"It makes you think about all the benefits of being at home. It shows you: don't take anything for granted, cause when you're there, you don't have any of the stuff you usually have. You have to work for everything," John Owusu offered.

So far, 150 teens have gone through the boot-camp. Only five have ended up back in the system. Six are now in college. Captain Forbes is proud of that track record, but he knows there's much more work to do.

"I don't think that our youth are lost, I just think that we as adults need to do our part in bringing them back," he said.

Forbes named the boot camp for his late father who inspired him to help kids. The DL Forbes Youth Foundation" runs solely on donations. It gets referrals from schools, social services and police - and the demand is high - they have to turn away over 100 kids each year.

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