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Several years ago, the Episcopalian Church of Reconciliation had a problem: Teenagers kept kicking holes in the six-foot fence surrounding the property.

In response, the church built a new fence — one that had intentional openings so people living around the church could walk onto the property. Then, they built a basketball court and a community garden to draw in even more people.

That basketball court saved Frederick Jones’ life.

“I definitely did have a lot of anger growing up,” said Jones, 17, who grew up with his grandmother in a townhome by the church.

From a young age, Jones saw overt acts of racism both on the news and in person. In elementary school, a teacher from a different school called him the “N” word.

As Jones’ anger festered, he began observing the boys and men in his neighborhood who were involved with gangs. Around the same time, he also discovered the basketball court at the Church of Reconciliation.

“The basketball court kept me out of trouble,” Jones said. “Those older guys (on the court), maybe they weren’t the best guys, but they sure enough showed me a lot of love and taught me right from wrong. They were good influences on me.”

Jones is 6 feet 4 inches tall, articulate and quick to laugh. He is the starting left tackle on MacArthur High School’s varsity football team — and has already received a wealth of scholarship offers from universities with top tier football teams. He dreams of playing in the National Football League and of using his platform to call attention to racial issues in the country. This summer, he is helping the church with one of their community outreach programs.

To continue reading the full story of how Barrington began, please click here to visit the Foliomedia website. This article has been shared with permission from the original writer. 

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