BALTIMORE, MD -- 3/12/16 -- Van and his girlfriend, Sharone McRae, keep things running at the center. Together they leave Van's house as they prepare for a neighborhood cleanup. Safe Alternatives is more than just an effort by Van. His family is a big part of the project.
Van Brooks organized a community cleanup of an abandoned greenhouse two blocks from his youth center. The plan is to put the greenhouse back into service, teach his students about healthy eating, urban farming, and create partnerships with corner groceries to supply fresh fruits and vegetables in the community.
Van Brooks runs the Safe Alternative Center, which he started to give middle school kids in West Baltimore a safe place to learn and play.
Brooks was a Division 1 prospect when he played football in high school, but was paralyzed in a freak accident after making a tackle in his junior year. He regained the use of his arms, even walking again with much assistance, and graduated on time from high school. He later earned a degree in marketing from Towson University. Though still confined to a wheelchair, he is self-sufficient and runs the center.…by André Chung #_AC23033