Fan favorite and former Ravens Super Bowl champion wide receiver Torrey Smith is partnering with Baltimore to help develop the next generation of leaders in Charm City.
Smith, along with the Ravens, former NFL player and Baltimore native Aaron Maybin and Smith's wife, Chanel, recently unveiled the LEVEL82 Fund “LEVEL Up Leadership Academy,” which is being hosted by Baltimore City Recreation and Parks’ Hilton Recreation Center.
The rec center received $400,000 worth of upgrades from the Ravens organization to assist its efforts in designing a summer camp aimed at helping "pre-teens develop the skills and virtues necessary to become change-makers in their community."
According to a press release, the camp includes student-focused academic enrichment, including reading and math, weekly leadership workshops, social/emotional learning and a collaborative community service project.
Smith and Maybin spoke with local media Wednesday to go into further detail on their efforts.
"This is the beginning of something special," Smith said. "Baltimore for sure is going to be a better city because of the decisions that the Ravens are making to help lead the change, the charge, to help elevate Baltimore."
One question that came up during the process of developing their game plan was what age of kid the camp was going to be aimed at. Smith said Chanel is a fourth grade teacher, while he connects more with high schoolers.
Eventually, they settled on preteens, a demographic of kids who are old enough to respond to the challenge while being young enough to still be learning about their place in the community.
"It’s best to get the kids that are transitioning [into teenage years] because we know they’ll set the culture," Smith continued. "Our job and our mission is to create a space where the older kids felt comfortable.
Maybin followed up on the organization's visions for their students' roles moving forward.
"We also wanted to make sure the demographic of kids we’re serving set the bar for every generation that follows," Maybin said. "The kids we’re working with now going forward will be our older kids that set the example for all of the younger kids that are going to follow in years to come. So in establishing the culture of what we’re looking to do here at Hilton Rec Center, we wanted to be working with that target demographic of kids who we’re going to look at to be our leaders."
Still very early in their program's existence, Smith and Maybin are already enthusiastic about future possibilities.
"You see these kids and the way they respond to you, and we know what it’s going to do for this community long term," Smith said. "I’m excited to see where it all goes from here because this is just the beginning."