Symposium encourages mentors for black youths craving direction
by Dudley Brown, GoUpstate.com
A nonprofit focused on providing mentoring for black youths is hosting a conference on how parents, educators and others in the community can help young people.
Black Boys of Distinction is beginning its second year, and its “Project I Can 2” 2009 Symposium will be held Saturday in Wofford College’s Leonard Building. The symposium’s theme is “Creating Positive Futures for Black Boys.”
The conference will begin at 8 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast before a 9 a.m. opening ceremony. It’s expected to end about 5 p.m.
The nonprofit is looking for men willing to volunteer to be mentors, and parents can enroll their sons in the program. Black Boys of Distinction is a subsidiary of Promised Land Community Development Corp.
“It’s extremely important because a lot of the problems we’re seeing with young black males are from not having a strong male presence in their lives,” said Pastor Tommy Quick, the program’s founder. “What I’ve learned from the boys I’m dealing with is they’re longing for that relationship.”
Quick said Black Boys of Distinction has 90 boys between the ages of 9 and 17 enrolled in its program. It also has 12 mentors.
“They’re looking at stars and athletes when there could be heroes in their community,” said Quick of the importance of local mentors.
The program has had a six-week summer run that has included field trips to The King Center in Atlanta, the Youth Education Series at Disney World and career exploration. Participants in Black Boys of Distinction have learned life and decision-making skills. They’ve also heard anti-drug and anti-violence messages.
Steve Perry and David Miller will lead workshops during the symposium. Perry, founder of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Conn., was featured in CNN’s “Black in America 2” last week.
“I was determined to bring him because his experience and exposure would bring something valuable to our conference,” Quick said of Perry.
Miller, founder and chief visionary of the Urban Youth and Urban Leadership Institute in Baltimore, participated in last year’s symposium. Other guests include John Hammond III, CEO of 100 Black Men of America, and officials from the state department of education.