VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) --- One summer can change things.

A group of at-risk children from all over Hampton Roads showed us how true that is inside an auditorium at the Virginia Beach Police Training building.

It’s their graduation day after the six-week-long Joy Ministries Summer Reading Camp.

Instead of goofing off relaxing this summer, they've been hitting the books.

Their hard work even caught the eye of Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.

He spoke at the ceremony Friday afternoon.

“Reading is going to help you be more successful,” said Sessoms. “And when you go back to school you’re going to be more successful by working hard.”

The kids come from some of the highest crime areas in our region, but it’s not where they are from but what they’ve accomplished that defines them.

“Isn’t that great,” said Sessoms.

All 98 graduates received a handshake from the mayor and something many of them have never received before: an award.