• 77°

Spirit: Kids helping kids: Brooklynne Witherspoon impacts area youth

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — This year, 10-year-old Brooklynne Witherspoon has made it her mission to find a summer job for her friend Princess Chambers. It’s just one of the many goals this Overton Elementary School student has set.

Nearly two years ago, Brooklynne created an after-school program called “A Bridge 4 Kids,” which initially began as a way to divert her sadness following the 2014 murder of her cousin, 7-year-old A’yanna Allen.

The program gives area youth something to do and, according to its founder, will also serve to help local children find jobs, stop violence and teach them how to interact with law enforcement.

“I want to keep people off the streets,” Brooklynne quickly said about her mission.

The young girl comes up with ideas for her program, but does receive help with logistics from her mentors — grandmother Sharon Freeman-Johnson, dance instructor Gloria “GG” Gray and Beverly House-Kerr, creator of Kujamani Creative Arts.

A group of about half a dozen or more children meet each Wednesday at Hall’s Gym, 1402 W. Bank St., to discuss what’s going on in their lives and hear from a community speaker. Most recently, the children heard from House-Kerr about what place, if any, religion holds in their lives.

Brooklynne and grandmother Sharon Freeman-Johnson collaborated on the name of the program. The two were texting, discussing the main mission of the program — to bridge the gap. Gradually, it became “A Bridge 4 Kids.”

Brooklynne said she’s inspired by the people in her life, including her parents Cedric and Erika Witherspoon, her program mentors as well as Salisbury Police Officer Scotty Robinson, who has spoken to her group. She hopes to inspire younger children by leading by example.

“I want to inspire them by doing good in the community,” she said.

Brooklynne said she would encourage any area youth with ideas to “go for it,” “believe in yourself” and “be determined.

“I’m really proud of her,” House-Kerr said.

Tayloria Kesler’s 5-year-old daughter, Zamaria Ellis, joined the program in August 2018. The great attributes she said in Brooklynne, Kesler said, was one of the main reasons she allowed her daughter to join the program.

“I thought she had great character,” Kesler said.

Kesler said she hopes her daughter will be able to build confidence and meet different people.

Although the program is still in its infancy, Brooklynne has already seen some detractors, who said she couldn’t possibly have come up with a structured program. This pre-teen, however, is unbothered, saying she doesn’t listen to the naysayers. Instead, she spends late nights delving deeper into creating ideas for her program.

“You just can’t think about other people. I don’t worry about negativity,” Brooklynne said.

Brooklynne said in five years she hopes the program will have grown to include more youth and incorporate a dance/step team. For now, “I really want to see Princess get a job,” she said.

As to the future of her program, Brooklynne said growth “would be amazing.”

Since the start of “A Bridge for Kids” in 2017, its members have participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. parade, made connections with local law enforcement, firefighters and local community and elected leaders.

When she’s not commanding an after-school program, the Salisbury resident is involved in dance, likes to draw, aspires to participate in gymnastics and enjoys reading books from one of her favorite authors, Raina Telgemeier and the Baby-Sitter’s Club books. She’s a school representative/leader and is a member of the Overton Elementary School Jump Rope Club.



Spencer man arrested for rape


Blotter: Boy served with juvenile justice petition for shooting


North Rowan High student creates artwork for Community Care Clinic


Rugby coming to Kannapolis on Sept. 25


RSS superintendent talks to Chamber of Commerce about renewal, state of public education


Prosecution in Fishzilla murder case introduces more witness accounts, handgun used in shooting


Volunteers needed as High Rock Lake to host fourth annual Clean Sweep event on Saturday

High School

High school volleyball: West back on track after sweeping Carson


GOP candidate, Lexington attorney Jim Snyder dead at 76


Judge says farm workers’ union law provision is unconstitutional


For second day in a row, six new COVID-19 deaths reported in Rowan County


Main Street repaving scheduled to start Monday evening


Sex offender faces new charges for living too close to Head Start in China Grove


Salisbury man wanted for August murder on Carpenters Circle


One-of-a-kind barn quilt goes up in western Rowan County


Fishzilla murder trial continues with employee testimony, footage of deadly arcade shooting


Education Briefs: Catawba announces professional certifications

High School

High school football Week 5: Hornets at home against Thomasville


Local colleges finds spots on latest U.S. News and World Report rankings


Christiana Lutheran Church to celebrate 150th homecoming


Spencer authorizes COVID-19 sick leave for vaccinated employees


Charges coming for two in altercation involving bag of cans, warning shot


RCCC honors employees as ‘COVID-19 Heroes’


Livingstone golf coach, three others honored as ‘Living Legends’