South London Press
THE parents of a teenager murdered at an ice rink are launching a charity to teach kids how to make money and earn respect without resorting to crime.
James Andre Smartt-Ford, 17, known to his family as Dre, was shot at a disco event at Streatham Ice Arena attended by more than 300 people on February 3, 2007.
Seventeen people have been arrested as part of the investigation, six of them on the night of the shooting.
In February, cops offered a £20,000 reward to find his killer, but no one has been charged.
Now his parents Tracey and Trevor Ford, both 48, are launching the JAGS Foundation to teach young people aged 14-25 “financial literacy and money management” to steer them away from crime.
Mrs Ford said: “Ever since Andre died I have been travelling to schools and youth centres to talk to children about how tragic events like what happened to my son affect the whole family.
“My background is in finance and I thought, ‘What more can I do?’ as more and more children are dying each week.
\”This is something that I know will work as it’s engaging young people in something that they want to be successful at.
“It’s to help them realise they can achieve financial freedom without resorting to guns, drugs or street crime.
“It’s taking a different spin on it. It’s not negating what they’re going through.
\”It’s about helping them to realise there is a life beyond what they think there is.”
The official launch will take place with a fundraising ball tomorrow on what would have been Andre’s 21st birthday, at the Park Plaza hotel in Victoria.
Mrs Ford said: “Doing this is part of our healing process. It helps us in the way that we’re able to express how our situation affects everybody. It’s not just for me, it’s about engaging people.”
The foundation aims to raise £500,000 over three years to develop training programmes to deliver in schools and youth centres.
Streatham Labour MP Chuka Umunna has shown support and is expected to attend the launch.
Visit www.jagsfoundation.co.uk for more information or to book tickets to the charity ball.
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