The Godfather In Sports Talk and the Community Tackling Childhood Obesity

By Maggie Linton

Harold and Hattie Bell founded Kids In Trouble during the 1968 riots in Washington, DC. It became an official non-profit volunteer organization in 1986. For over 40 years the program has worked closely with school principals, administrators, parents, teachers, counselors, youth advocates and community support staff. Kids In Trouble, Inc. (KIT) is one of the most successful independent self-help organizations in America. The program has benefited thousands of inner-children. It has survived with in-kind donations from friends and quite often using money from their own pockets. They have sent kids to camp and obtained college scholarships, helped kids attend national sporting events, plus coordinated clothing and toy drives for flood victims in North Carolina. KIT has also hosted youth gang and Black History Month conferences and provided mentors and motivational speakers. These services are all a part of the program’s long and storied history.

Harold was once a kid in trouble and was “going to hell in a hurry” according to his middle school Principal William B. Stinson. He boldly predicted to Harold’s mother Mattie Bell…“Your son will not live to get out of high school.” Harold was saved by an earth angel, Spingarn High School’s legendary Coach Dave Brown and the rest is community and sports talk radio history.

In 1997 Kids In Trouble, Inc. coordinated a youth gang conference at Bible Way Church in NW Washington, DC. The conference’s host was Pastor James Silverman and co-chaired by Jim Brown (NFL) and Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA). Gang members from New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, DC, Virginia and as far away as Los Angeles were in attendance. It was during this conference Congressman Davis was first forewarned that MS-13 was moving into his Fairfax jurisdiction. Since that warning MS-13 has become one of the most feared gangs in America.

There are 2.1 million people in jail in America, the largest inmate population in the world. Blacks make up only 12% of the American population. However 42% of American Black men between the ages of 15-29 are either in custody of the courts or are incarcerated. Many new jails are underground and many of the white wardens are millionaires, sound familiar? Minority youth are dropping out of school at twice the rate of White children. Youth gun violence is also off the charts.

The KIT toy party for needy children is the crown-jewel of the program. This year Harold and Hattie will celebrate 40 years of marriage and toy parties in November and December respectively. The toy party is the longest on going community based program in America. Their community programs have also being copied around the country by the media and pro sports teams. In the NBA it is called “The NBA CARES.”

To read the rest of Maggie’s commentary on the legendary Harold Bell and Kids In Trouble click here.

Maggie Linton is a pioneer in sports talk radio and television. She was the first woman Sports Anchor on TV in Wichita, KS, St. Louis and Washington, DC. Maggie has also worked on Network TV and in feature films. She hosts a radio talk show on XM Satellite Radio, Saturday nights at 10:00 pm on XM 169.

Photo: Harold Bell (left) and NBA Hall of Famer K.C. Jones


3 Responses to “The Godfather In Sports Talk and the Community Tackling Childhood Obesity”

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