At a location in Frayser designated by the address 3350 N. Trezevant St., a dream is giving way to reality in response to need.

The Youth Academy of Dreams was envisioned as an innovative afterschool program designed to help youth ages 5 -18 reach their full potential through comprehensive programming that includes education, mentoring, discovery and sports. 

During an Open House and Fun Day next Wednesday (Aug. 1), the public is invited to tour the new facility from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. On display will be the result of a “collaborative intervention plan for success that maximizes student, family and community engagement to close the achievement gap and prevent juvenile crime.”

Entertainer iHeartMemphis, creator of the platinum selling “Hit the Quan,” will make a special appearance. Light refreshments will be served. 

Youth Academy of Dreams was created by Sergeant Craig Littles of the Memphis Police Department and has been 25 years in the making. Littles is widely recognized as the head of the Memphis Bears youth sports teams, which he founded in  1996, and for his association with Memphis Shelby PAL (Police Activities League), a nonprofit youth mentoring group.

“I have always wanted a facility that allowed us to implement all of our programming after school and under one roof,” Littles said. “It took us quite some time to raise the funds and galvanize the right team of corporate and community partners. We are all dedicated to providing a safe learning environment that deters our youth from crime and other negative influences. This is the next level of our kids, cops and community initiatives.” 

Youth Academy of Dreams seeks to create a fun learning environment that increases academic achievement, nurtures students’ talents and encourages them to dream. Students will have access to enrichment classes, a computer lab and a game room.

Physical activity is a prime component of Youth Academy of Dreams and students can participate in football, cheerleading, baseball, tennis, track and field, volleyball, soccer, basketball, golf or swimming. 

Applications are now being accepted for the after-school program. It will begin August 6 and will operate Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. An eight-week summer program also is in the mix going forward.

Several businesses and organizations within the community provided monetary and volunteer assistance for the renovations. There is a room dedicated to each corporate partner that showcases their name and logo.  They are Nike, Sherwin-Williams, Sparco, Spaces Group, Shelby County Schools, City of Memphis,  Memphis City Council, City of Memphis Employees Credit Union, Shelby County Commission, Shelby County Government, Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Materials were provided by Home Depot, Lowes and Sherwin-Williams. They will receive formal recognition during an invitation-only Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

(For more information about Youth Academy of Dreams, call 901-295-8377 or email info@youthacademyofdreams.org. Parents who would like to register their child can do so online at www.youthacademyofdreams.org.)