Every year, when CNN honors its Heroes I watch them all. Each inspiring story reminds us how with passion and persistence anyone can make a giant difference.
Among this year’s honorees is Twanda Jones of Camden, New Jersey, who started the Camden Sophisticated Sisters Drill Team (and more recently a drum line for boys). Her mission is to empower kids using a drill team as a “façade.” “Once I have them, I introduce them to the college life,” she says. “We need to take back our city, and more importantly, take back our youth, let them know people care about them.”
“Whether you need it for work, you need it for school, you need discipline, period,” Jones told CNN. “Drill team is good as far as structure, because you have to be precise. You have to be on point.”
According to the story, being part of the the Sophisticated Sisters has life-changing results:
Only 49% of children in Camden graduate from high school, one of the lowest rates in the state, according to the New Jersey Department of Education. But Jones said all the children who’ve participated in her program — more than 4,000 kids since 1986 — have graduated, and more than 80% of them have gone on to college or technical schools.