Last week I introduced some startling stats for youth and children in the Buckeye-Woodhill neighborhood and two champions caring and serving the neighborhood. Today I introduce two more champions for youth.
My Brother My Sister Global/MBMS
My Brother My Sister Global is approaching its 15-year anniversary. Originally founded in Akron-Copley MBMS, it has a mission to promote unity and self-determination. It aims to increase high school graduation, college admission and retention of young men and women of color in order to provide a sense of responsibility and servant leadership dedicated to solving local, national, and global issues.
The program involves a curriculum that utilizes Hip Hop Therapy, media and the arts to support youth development, voice and leadership.
The mission is inspired by its founder Malcolm Burton, who began the organization at the tender age of 16, initially to address the disproportionate number of Black students in detention rather than class. Malcolm then and still today ascribes to the notion that youth need CLC- Community Love and Culture, not disdain. The program involves a curriculum that utilizes Hip Hop Therapy, media and the arts to support youth development, voice and leadership.
A safe space for self-expression
Malcolm passionately asserts that youth need a safe space, where they can be express themselves fully and freely. MBMS Global provides such space so that youth can share on matters that brings them anxiety, depression and trauma. Hip Hop Therapy offers a language for sharing their truth, the arts and media analysis processes allows them express themselves creatively. College tours and peer mentors give them an opportunity to believe they can achieve the seemingly impossible. MBMS has had over 150 members graduate from high school and so far, 78 from college. The pandemic caused some of the toughest time for MBMS, because sharing physical space is critical to the interactions they offer. In the interim, they have focused on capacity building and gaining support towards future sustainability.
Where are the spaces where teens specifically can fully BE themselves and not be seen as menace to society?
Let’s trust young adults who are willing to support community
My Brother My Sister Global is a member of the R.I.S.E. Collaborative, and another local champion supporting youth in the Buckeye-Woodhill neighborhood. MBMS leadership is very thankful for the partnership with East End, which currently provides them with space, but he does wish for a building MBMS can call as a permanent home. The vision for this place would include all that they do now, plus an opportunity to create jobs for youth through an active social enterprise, already in existence and a community space for creative presentations by the youth. The space would be a sanctuary explicitly for youth, which adults would be welcomed and encouraged to support. “Think about it, where are the spaces where teens specifically can fully BE themselves and not be seen as menace to society? Young people can get in trouble just by visiting the mall these days, and socialization is part of youth development.” He wants elders in leadership roles, to trust young adults willing to support the community; without imposing barriers to do the work. Creating possibilities for youth should always be the responsibility of the collective and that collective is from diverse ages.
Pregnant with Possibilities Resource Center/PPRC Endless Possibilities program
Pregnant with Possibilities Resource Center provides culturally competent sexual health education, and perinatal support, with an overall goal of successful birth outcomes. Programs and services are research-based and reflect best practices, designed by Black women for Black teens and women countywide. They have been around for the past seven years and place special focus from a cultural lens, understanding that African American babies die four times at higher rate than other babies do. PRPC’s services are free and confidential and offers amazing programs and services for mothers and their maternal needs, but I will highlight their very successful teen program-Endless Possibilities.
Pregnant with Possibilities Resource Center provides culturally competent sexual health education, and perinatal support, with an overall goal of successful birth outcomes.
Takiyah Durham, Director of Programs and Operations, shared that Endless possibilities is a program geared towards teens to cover the importance of learning about STDs, peer pressure, and self-esteem matters. A series of interactive discussions among teens cover the value of personal goals balanced with other pressures that may threaten such goals. Sessions meaningfully encourage a deep dive into many areas of personal concern for teens, offering them an opportunity to process new information and nurture capabilities to make smart decisions. PPRC overcomes transportation and access barriers by providing programming at high schools.
Shifting from reactive to proactive solutions
Teens are currently facing many challenges; premature pregnancies do not need to become part an added concern. Takiyah shares: “Pandemic Stress has heightened life changes to a level of magnitude that directly affect a young’s person development! Some of them may look for love or comfort in all the wrong places. Our program serves as a positive intervener that helps them make the right decisions and gain coping skills that help them learn how to face stresses. In the midst of all that is going on, about the information we shared with young audiences I felt compelled to ask about schools buy in on the subject of sexual health education in the schools.
Pandemic Stress has heightened life changes to a level of magnitude that directly affect a young’s person development!
Veranda Rodgers, PPRC’s Executive Director chimed in to share that while some CSMD high schools provides some education in selected grades, “the reality is that most schools are more reactive than proactive to the subject matter.” Presently they have seen an increase in calls for their service, because of a recent increase in premature pregnancies. Therefore, it would be best and most ideal to raise awareness amongst teens before these pregnancies take place, especially knowing how the risks associated with childbirth would likely increase for a teen mother.
Endless Possibilities is an in-demand, research-based program
The Endless Possibilities program, is research-based best practice, fully evaluated and proven to create impact. The format and approach allow youth to be open and while voluntary, youth engage with the program and report it as a good experience. Many students request to return if the program is offered over the following year. Like other champions I’ve highlighted on prior blogs. the team at Pregnant with Possibilities, assert that collaborative work with others on behalf of youth would garner greater results. Active partnerships between schools and PPRC could avoid premature pregnancies and instead, as the very name of the program encourages, nurture teen abilities to meet endless possibilities!
The Pandemic brought challenges to our entire world, and our beloved communities, such as the Buckeye-Woodhill neighborhood are still facing the effects. Children have been particularly vulnerable. Recently, according to a report by the Associated Press education team, recent school report cards scores in both math and reading dropped; signaling that we must remain alert. The same report quoted Eric Gordon stating that while he had confidence that scores can improve, he is most concerned that, “the country won’t stay focused on getting kids caught up.” I urge us to recognize the many local champions see them, support them, and join them! After all, it really does take a village to create possibilities for you. Ubuntu!