By Makenzie O’Keefe

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– A former gang member who lost his son to violence, has served his time and is now serving our community.

Ta’rell Lavar Burton Sr. and his wife Kisha, have started a nonprofit called “A True Change.”

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On Thursday, they teamed up with Environmental Learning for Kids and took more than 30 children on a fishing trip at Lake Lehow, south of Chatfield Reservoir.

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“If we can get them in a different environment and show them different things, maybe we can get a different outcome,” explained Kisha LaChe Burton.

Ta’rell Lavar Burton Sr. and his wife Kisha (credit: CBS)

The idea is that together, they can create opportunities for kids that they might not otherwise have. They hope this will introduce the kids to new activities and hobbies, while helping to break the mold of where these kids grow up.

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“In Denver, there is a lot of gang violence, a lot of gang activity,” Kisha said.

Ta’rell Lavar Burton Sr. knows the struggles all too well. Burton Sr. is a former gang member, who served 13 years in prison. A week before he was released, he learned his 18-year-old son, Ta’rell Lavar Burton Jr., was killed.

Ta’rell Lavar Burton Jr.(credit: CBS)

“He was gunned down. I lost my son to the streets,” Burton Sr. told CBS4’s Makenzie O’Keefe.

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Losing his son before he was released from prison was a type of pain he never thought he’d endure. It led him to make a change in his life, and decide to help other at-risk children.

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“These kids remind me of my own kids. It reminds me of the times and the mistakes I made in my own life that kept me away from my children,” Burton Sr. said. “As a father, I felt that it was my due diligence to give back to young men and women in the streets for my son.”

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The kids learned how to cast, were given fishing poles by ELK Kids and tested their skills at Lake Lehow. For many of the kids, it was their first time fishing.

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“I just threw in my line, and I got a fish,” one kid said. “I feel great. I was the first to catch one!”

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While the nonprofit “A True Change” has given Burton Sr. a second chance, it’s just the beginning for the young kids taking part.

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“The city is just a small dot on the map. The world is huge,” he explained. “They have so much exploring to do and they can start right here.”

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The nonprofit hopes to show kids the various activities there are in the outdoors.

LINK: A True Change
ELK Kids

Makenzie O’Keefe joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2017. Read her bio, connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter at @makenziepokeefe or email her your story ideas.

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