Photo: Getty
  /  09.24.2022

An Atlanta organization, Helping Empower Youth, is helping the city combat its growing concerns of adolescents selling water at busy intersections.

The teens, often referred to as “water boys,” can continue selling water and other snacks, but instead of racing across streets, they can now set up shop at a kiosk. The booth is located downtown on Peachtree Street near a MARTA station.

“We thought that it would be a great way to have a safer space for at least some of the young men to be able to sell water or other things that they were interested in versus at corners and at intersections,” Helping Empower Youth founder Kanesha “KaCey” Venning told WGCL-TV.

She noted that she and others in the organization are thrilled to offer a safe option to help the teens continue to make money and to learn entrepreneurial skills. According to various news reports, the burgeoning salesmen were, at times, raking in hundreds of dollars in water sales and tips in a single day.

“Really, we wanted them to see that they’re not limited to just selling water at the corner, that there is a whole world that is open to them around retail space, commerce, marketing and who knows, you may find part of it that really piques your professional interest in years to come,” she added.

The organization is employing 25 young men, and they’re not selling just any type of water brand. Instead, they are offering their own private H2O label, Hey! Hydrate!

Since the summer of 2020, city officials and police have attempted to thwart youth from selling water in the streets. In the past, officials have threatened to arrest teens caught in the intersections, as well as cite parents of individuals deemed repeat offenders. Others, such as Councilman Antonio Brown, proposed hiring the young men.

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