Quinton Neal: Working with Youth

Quinton Neal is the founder and director of a new program for youth in Peoria, entitled “Teens Speaking Out, Teens Stepping Out” (or “TSO Squared”), which aims to get at-risk youth off the streets and into educational or other extracurricular programs. Quinton explains, “Most of the kids [I work with] have social problems. It’s not that they’re not intelligent or [don’t] have the skills to excel educationally but they’re a product of their environment and their environment is overwhelming and that takes away from their studies.”

By involving students in step dancing or local choirs, Quinton says his program works because, “We pull kids off the streets  . . . we give them something to do.”

Quinton isn’t alone in his endeavors. He has found a business partner in fiancée Diane Hines, who works with the same groups of youth in local school systems. “I’ve been to poetry events and things, things that I just never did before. I like to explore now. Diane takes me to a lot of things that I would have never gone to if it wasn’t for her.”

Quinton cites EJP as a key factor in many of his accomplishments. “Supporters should know that EJP is a necessity,” he says. “It’s much-needed in order to not only reach those who are incarcerated but those who are connected to those who are incarcerated. Once you change the mindset of someone, that is a serious movement. I think EJP is that movement. I think EJP could easily be a model for prison systems across the United States. Look at myself as a success story. I did twenty years, I could have been bitter, I could have been a lot of things, but to give back to the community, in order to do that, that’s EJP. It just alters your mindset.”


EDUCATION JUSTICE PROJECT
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Champaign, IL 61820 
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