49ers players, incarcerated kids talk frustration management and football drills at juvenile hall

Image 1 of 3

Members of the San Francisco 49ers teamed up with Fresh Lifelines for Youth on Wednesday at Santa Clara Juvenile Hall to lead frustration management instruction before taking more than 100 kids through youth football drills. 

For nearly three hours, the incarcerated kids split up into small groups, where six professional football players shared personal tactics for overcoming anger and frustration. The instructors devoted special attention towards reversing negative energy through exercise, group projects and football drills. 

“From players getting personal in the discussion about frustration management to being cheered on by these great players in football drills, [the event] gave these young people a few hours of positive support from people they view as role models,” said Sean Rooney, probation division manager at the youth jail, in an email.

Wednesday’s gathering was the largest turnout of professional players the juvenile hall has seen and the kids were fully engaged the entire time, according to Rooney. For 49ers defensive end Ronald Blair, showing the kids some love is an opportunity to remind them there’s plenty of time to make a positive change. 

“This is my chance to come here to let them know people care about them, that people think about them, and [they] can take a better step in the right direction,” Blair said. 

Bringing the kids this event required the team’s collaboration with Fresh Lifelines for Youth, or the FLY program, which is a Bay Area-based nonprofit focused on minimizing youth violence, crime and incarceration. The organization works with kids already in the juvenile justice system as well as those at risk for entering the system in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Alameda counties.

“The smiles, cheers and support bring a special moment to many of these young people who have suffered a great deal of trauma in their young lives,” Rooney said.  

The FLY program offers multiple opportunities to get involved with troubled youth. From mentorship programs to teaching kids their rights, there’s a variety of avenues to explore and they need volunteers.