Too often, the images of young African American males are negative.
There is a group dedicated to changing those images with a mentoring program aimed at showing young men what they can achieve.
The Mary S. Nelums Foundation held its first shadowing event at the Jackson Medical Mall and the aim is to take back neighborhoods one young man at a time.
For most of these boys, this is a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with professional African-American men.
They range in age from 11 to 13 years old, from Brinkley Middle School and Mississippi Families for Kids, and there is a reason their age group has been selected.
"We chose that group because they're such an impressionable group of young people," Dr. Mary S. Nelums said.
Nelums organized this event.
She calls the professional men here, lawyers, judges, social workers and businessmen... giants.
"These young men will meet with our giants and they will shadow them for a day, because we really want the young guys to take a look at role models," Dr. Nelums said. "...see what they can become and expose them to opportunities other than what they see on television in the negative part of it. We want them to see positive."
Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd is one of the "giants."
Asked how a program like this can help take back a neighborhood, Judge Kidd said.
"Well, I think it can help tremendously. I see young kids everyday ruining their lives, because they don't understand that there's a way out and I think that this program with the giants stepping in and showing these young men that there's an option," Judge Kidd said. "I think if you save one child at a time, then that can make a big difference in our communities and we're going to have to start somewhere."
Dr. Nelums says intervening in the lives of children who live in neighborhoods that expose them to violence now, can help them to begin to develop a good sense of self and become productive citizens as adults.
To find out more about the MSN Foundation Shadowing Experience and the scholarship program for masters level social work students, just go to www.msnfoundation.org.
Let us know how we can help you take back your neighborhood.
And, if you've already turned your community around, we want to know how you did it. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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