Boys & Girls Club launches free drivers academy in hopes of cutting back on first contact with legal system

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala – At first glance, you might not associate a drivers academy as a tool to keep people out of legal trouble. In reality, a driving violation may serve as someone’s first interaction with the legal system.

Especially in under-served communities.

“You can solve it on the front end,” said Patrick Wynn, the President of the Boys and Girls Club of North Alabama.

Wynn was thinking about getting ahead of a problem when his organization applied for a racial equity grant from the Community Foundation. The Boys and Girls Club won the grant and they jumped into action right away.

In Wynn’s 20 plus years of being a community builder, he knew driving was a gateway to run-ins with law enforcement.

“A moving violation, driving a vehicle without a driver’s license, driving a vehicle with a busted tail light. Then they don’t have the resources,” said Wynn.

By not having resources, Wynn means not having money to pay for tickets or having people in your corner to help navigate these hurdles. Which in this case, often leads to warrants and jail time.

Public school systems, especially in metro areas can’t always accommodate every student wanting driver’s ed. Outside of school systems, the cost for a driving education program can range as much as $200-500.

The classes at the Boys and Girls Club are structured to take on students starting the learning process from various stages. Some students only need a class or two before taking the final driving test.

The Boys and Girls Club says parents should take advantage of the program to lessen their stress.

“They don’t have to worry about coming up with fees. We provide everything for them. We have certified driving instructors. We have the car,” said Wynn.

The Boys and Girls Club launched several programs over the course of the pandemic despite losing upwards of 1 million dollars without the ability to fundraise in person.

The Driver Academy launched in December. Twelve students have left the driver’s academy and are now on the road.

Reach out to the club if you want more information.

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