New youth project aims to keep kids out of trouble through fine arts programs

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PORT GIBSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The city of Port Gibson and Claiborne County has experienced horrific crime spikes during the start of 2021, including two men killed outside a nightclub. 

To prevent future incidents like this, one man’s vision to offer better mentorship is growing in the community.

People in Mississippi may remember the Chamberlain Hunt Military Academy, which closed in 2014 after more than 130 years of serving as a Christian boarding school.

After moving back to his home state, CJ King is renovating the property to help kids in the area prepare for the real world while letting their talents shine. 

Seeing teens around Port Gibson hang out on the streets and at risk of getting into trouble, King is welcoming anyone eager to find their path in music, styling, or photography. 

CJ King, the executive director of Chamberlain Hunt Complex, said, ” I came here four years ago and saw a need for the community and youth here. So, I just started coming up with ideas. it’s starting to come to a vision. a lot of just extra time where you’re just sitting around not doing anything nine times out of ten, you’re going to get in trouble. 

Each room in the old military school is being renovated into recording studios, dance rooms, and design studios where teens and young adults can work with king’s staff to get one on one mentorship. 

Harell Davenport, a piano student at Chamberlain Hunt Academy, said, “Releasing stress and just for happiness because it’s something I want to do one day maybe now. It helps with a lot of things. They just make me feel like I’m family and feel safe. 

King said, “You can tell that they have a talent, and it just needs to be nurtured. We don’t have any places around here where kids can go and let their talent grow then turn into a butterfly. 

Partnering with Alcorn State University, Grind Family has also opened up parts of the Chamberlain Hunt buildings as dormitories and apartments to give young adults access to safe affordable housing. 

King said, “free wifi, free electricity, free water, it’s all included in one package. it’s very affordable.”

King said he has brought a full-time staff consisting of engineers, producers, and more with connections to some big music names. He is determined to give all students their next big step in entering the real world. 

During the summer, Chamberlain Hunt Academy plans to hold football and basketball summer camps for kids in the area with appearances from college and professional players in the sports world. 

In the future, King hopes to transition the whole campus into a stem school. 

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