Rope Youth- A Road to Redemption
Like many of the youth he works with, Rope Youth’s founder, Karl Baroski, had no father in his life. By the age of 5, his mother abandoned him, leaving him to cycle through foster homes for the rest of his adolescent life. Overcoming adversity as a troubled teen, Karl graduated high school and went on to play college football at Arkansas Tech University. Karl’s passion for working with at-risk youth began in college while working with the Boys and Girls Club and the Sunshine Boys center. Through his job with the Boy Scouts of America, Karl opened numerous outreach programs for kids who would otherwise not have the opportunity to be in scouts. In September 2010, Karl created the Project R.O.P.E. program to help first-time juvenile offenders. After a successful year and a half, Karl left the Boy Scouts to start Rope Youth and has since developed four programs: Project Rope, Grow, MENtor, and Propel.
The Redirect Outdoor Program Experience (R.O.P.E.) provides juvenile offenders an alternative to formal court proceedings and offers a chance to accept responsibility and move forward in their lives. Through structured activities, this program aims to reduce the recidivism rate among offending youth and provide a positive activity for other at-risk youth. R.O.P.E. is for non-violent 11 to 17-year-old boys and girls. At least once a month the youth participate in a High Adventure activity, including horse-back riding, rappelling, caving, backpacking, hiking, swimming, canoeing, and usually involves camping.
GROW is an all-girl self-esteem program. All GROW members meet weekly during their school lunch hour with their mentor. GROW is centered around young girls exploring their strengths and special qualities that make each student unique as they can express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas without judgment. In addition to hanging out with other girls and their program mentor, students will learn to deal with stress, express anger, make good decisions, and protect their inner self. GROW girls participate in the community, have local sleepovers, and camping trips. GROW starts in the seventh grade and continues until graduation as their mentor follows them grade by grade and school by school.
MENtor is an all-male weekly mentoring program that meets during lunch hour. Most of these young men were referrals to MENtor from teachers and guidance counselors as the majority have limited family support, live below the poverty line, and are being raised by a single parent or guardian. With these disadvantages, most of these students are behind academically. The best way to overcome these challenges is to build relationships with supportive and concerned adults. MENtor’s purpose is to provide a stable, trustworthy adult presence that the student may be lacking in their life. Starting in the seventh grade, the mentor will stay with the young man the entire school year and follow him through the rest of his academic career, providing emotional support, a positive self-image, and confidence to achieve academic goals.
PROPEL is a six-week prevention program for children in fourth through sixth grade. These students will learn team building and leadership skills through fun group interactions and structured activities lead by a mentor. PROPEL has frequent guest speakers from the community, including C.E.O.’s, Administrators, Youth Leaders, Professional Counselors, and other non-profit partners that have been through relatable struggles and adversity. This program aims to address current issues that students may have before they become a problem in the future. Each week addresses a critical issue that today’s youth face:
Week 1: Leadership/Team Building Activity
Week 2: Bullying
Week 3: Self Esteem/Team Building Activity
Week 4: Coping and Relationships
Week 5: Drugs and Alcohol
Week 6: Health and Wellness/Crossfit Activity