Project Transformation

Dwayne Harris visits program to help transform children’s lives

Diane Xavier | 8/2/2013, 3:51 a.m.
Before heading out to training camp in Oxnard, Calif., to get ready for football season, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne ...
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris made a stop in Pleasant Grove as part of its Project Transformation program. Joseph Browning

Pablo Lara, a fifth grader at Nova Academy, agreed.

“I can learn new things that I never heard about such as Bible lessons,” Lara said. “They also help us with our reading skills. Reading with the volunteers has helped me a lot because I used to make a lot of mistakes, but now I don’t.”

Lindh said the program transforms students in several ways.

“Just to have the kids live their full-potential and graduate and be college-ready is amazing to see,” he said. “Also, the college students who intern end up most changed because they learn about the challenges these kids face and learn about their gifts and leadership.”

In Pleasant Grove, 46 percent of the adult population does not hold a high school degree and the per capita annual income is only $11,624. The area also has prevalent amounts of crime, drugs, and gang activity, according to the mayor’s Southern Dallas Task Force and the Dallas Office of Economic Development.

“Harris wanted to give back to the community and when kids see someone who is giving back and sending a positive message, it’s very important to them,” Lindh said. “I hope they’re inspired because they see someone who may be like one of them, where they grew up in a similar situation and neighborhood and look where he’s come from and how far he has made it. Hopefully, the kids will be inspired to make goals and set some expectations on what they can achieve with their life.”

She said the summer time is important to reach kids since many are out of school at that time and may not get an opportunity to study or read. Also, he said the goal is to try to host programs in urban churches.

“We are trying to use Project Transformation as a bridge-builder into the community,” Lindh said.

The program chose Harris to speak to the youth because Harris grew up in a similar area to Pleasant Grove, according to Lindh.

“I grew up in a rough environment and it was me, my mom and my three brothers. We came from a place where sometimes you couldn’t even walk down the streets. Looking at these kids, I know anything is possible wherever you come from and no matter what your background is,” he said after his discussion. “Growing up, I know I wanted to play sports and all of the work I put in my life, I didn’t let anyone tell me I couldn’t do something.”