GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Look out Grand Rapids, another 6 new drivers are on the road, but the half a dozen teens would not be getting behind the wheel unless it was for a new program at the Boys and Girls Club.
The idea for "Drive for Success" came not from staff, but Grand Rapids Police Officer Derrick Learned who spends a lot of time at the Boys and Girls Club Stiel Center. He knew many of the teens at the center did not have the ability to pay for drivers training.
“It thought I was going to be 18 to be honest. I wasn’t thinking about drivers training. I was thinking about getting a job, and getting money, and having people take me places, not me taking myself places,” said Anyeh Brown, one of the teens taking part in Drive for Success.
Officer Learned emailed Adam Williams at Century Driving for information on what is involved in a drivers training program. Instead of just offering tips, Williams and Century Driving sponsored six kids for free lessons. The price tag per student, $500.
The gift isn't lost on the teens.
“Now you don’t have to pay all that money,"Dymond Cummings told FOX 17. While she is grateful for the chance to get her license, she's not convinced that other drivers know the rules of the road. “I don’t like semi trucks, I don’t like highways, or people. They don’t know how to walk,”
For the police officers who got this program on the road, the instruction is a dream come true.
“I never thought it wouldn’t happen," said Officer Ray Erickson. "The program and the concept itself is so perfect. To be able to offer something that’s nearly inaccessible, to more people, I think..that’s the whole point of the boys and girls club. We as police officers, we want to be a part of that, to help facilitate those opportunities if we can,”
The officers are also involved in the training, picking up the teens and driving them to class, along with cheering the young drivers the first time they get behind the wheel.
“These kids kinda grow on you," said Officer Learned. "They become one of yours in a way. I already had three kids that I put through drivers training. We’re about to put another batch through,”