For years he battled on the field in the National Football League—now Keith Jackson, a former professional football player for the Philadelphia Eagles, is fighting another battle for city kids looking to live a better life. Dr. Oz talks with Keith about the P.A.R.K. Foundation (Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids), which he created to help Arkansas's at-risk youths raise their grades, build confidence and become future leaders.
After Keith finished playing pro football, he says he started thinking about his legacy outside of sports. "If people look at me as just a football player, then I've done something wrong," Keith says. "I want to be bigger than a football player, I want to be able to go back and impact my community." That's when he says the idea to create P.A.R.K. was born. Keith says he got the ball rolling on the project before moving back to his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, and he opened P.A.R.K.'s doors in 1995.
P.A.R.K. is an after school and summer program targeted at improving the academic achievements of Arkansas's at-risk youths and preparing them not only for college, but for life. Each year, the program enrolls 250 students who benefit from P.A.R.K.'s teachers and mentors, as well as its state-of-the-art facility that includes a dance floor, weight room, theater, game room, a girls-only beauty salon and three basketball courts. Students spend three hours after a regular full day of school in the program and participate in fun weekend trips and extracurricular activities, too.
Keith says the program has been a great success so far and that it's a model for what's possible in communities nationwide. He says the best part of the program is that P.A.R.K. alumni become positive role models for change in their own communities. "They're going to make a difference," Keith says. "They're letting other kids in their community know, 'Hey, look at me. I did it, you can do it!'"