PATERSON, NJ – Making go-getters out of gangsters, Jamie Bland, has been changing the lives of Paterson youths since 2002 when she founded Jumpstart Community Training Services Productions.
Jumpstart education programs include more than 68 plays, films and workshops which focus on character development, life skills, anger management, gang prevention, bully prevention, drug and alcohol abuse and family structure. Bland, who acts as executive director for Jumpstart, also writes and produces the plays and movies in addition to developing workshops.
Bland’s latest production is the film “Think Twice Little Gangster," premiering, Wednesday, Nov. 3, at the Fabian 8 Cinema, at the Center City Mall at 7 p.m.
The focus of the film is to bring back family structure, making wise decisions and staying focused. “We need as many adults and young adults as possible to come out and see this,” Bland said. “It will show them how to be responsible and accountable for their own actions. Our mission is youth educating youth”
Bland said the inspiration to start her programs came when she was working in special education and noticed that kids weren’t concentrating. She gave them an incentive by promising that they could do poetry, rap or dance after they finished academics. When two of her students went from special education to main stream education, Bland went ahead with her program without looking back. She said her workshops are based on “redirecting the mind of the youth of America today.”
With all the issues of today’s youth, Bland considers bullying to be the biggest issue of 2011. The bully workshop she developed helps youth focus on relationship accountability and responsibility. “We’re working on social, cyber and physical bullying,” Bland said.
At least 16 kids who came from Jumpstart programs have gone on to college. Bland said, “Instead of following the wrong direction it [Jumpstart] has a great impact on the brotherhood and sisterhood.”
Bland is very proud of the kids -- and happy for them.
A website for Jumpstart is still in the making. For more information on the programs, contact Jamie Bland at: 973-955-5755.
"Think Twice Little Gangster" was filmed in Paterson, Hackensack, New York City, Washington, DC, and Hollywood. It will be shown at 7 pm. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children.