ST PETERSBURG, Fla. — A St. Petersburg non-profit group in the Child's Park Neighborhood wants to start a new organization called “JoyRyde” to combat the growing trend of teens stealing and crashing cars.
"JoyRyde" is a program that will provide mentoring to helps teens get driver’s licenses and driver’s education and offers perks for completing the program, like the chance to joyride in a rented exotic car (alongside a mentor).
The guys behind the gas pedal on this program, Jabaar Edmond and Bro John Muhammad, hope by connecting kids with something they actually care about, they can connect with them.
The goal is to jumpstart the program and 1) target troubled teens before they make choices to steal automobiles and 2) make it a requirement for teens who get caught stealing cars to take the JoyRyde course.
“We have the chance to create this reality for some of these youth that may never have the chance to,” Edmond said.
Police in St. Petersburg say most of the car thefts happen when teens find unlocked doors and the keys inside — they are crimes of opportunity.
Edmond says if kids are driving with mentors, it will take away the thrill of stealing cars.
“Everyone knows about the feeling of joyriding so what we want to do is offer that opportunity in a legitimate, safe manner.”
As for driving those exotic cars, it would be on a closed track. It would come as a graduation reward along with college trips and gift cards.
“To give a less fortunate child this opportunity could be life changing.”
Edmond says punishments just aren’t working and it’s time to try something new.