DALLAS – For some students, finding a good mentor can be quite the task. That is why a non-profit called Urban Specialists is trying to make that connection a bit more tangible for students living in and around southern Dallas.
The resource center at the corner of Malcolm X and Elsie Faye Heggins streets was packed with young men, early Saturday morning. Members of the non-profit group have adopted 16 streets in South Dallas. They are making their presence known by tackling areas that have been hit pretty hard with crime.
A chant filled the room as dozens of boys repeated, “I am my brother’s keeper! I am my brother’s keeper!”
Organizers were connecting with the young men and teaching them about the importance of self-pride, self-respect, self-awareness, attitude, and building bonds.
The chant continued, “What I want for my brother…Is the same that I want for myself!”
The group of boys gathering in the space is part of a new mentoring program called “Kingdom Village.” About 50 young men from communities including South Dallas, Lancaster, Mesquite, and Oak Cliff are part of the four-day mentoring sessions.
Antong Lucky, with Urban Specialists, says the group is working to make a personal impact through the new mentoring program.
"A lot of kids that come from our community come from single-parent households. Or they may have a love one that’s locked up, a parent that’s locked up. So, we felt it was necessary to come together around those kids, provide them a roadmap of love and support that they need," Lucky explained.
Organizers believe Kingdom Village mentoring sessions are needed. It is one way, they say, of combating the violence and negative images many of the students are so used to seeing in their communities.
Juwon Grant is a senior from Lincoln High School participating in Kingdom Village. “If you don’t have a stable person to look up to in your life, you will tend to go off trail," Grant said.
The young men say the program is a support system that is keeping them on the right track. That is significant for Lincoln High School junior Jarvaiya Henderson. He says he watched his father gunned down just a few blocks from the intersection years ago.
"It hurts my feelings,” Henderson explained. “Because me, I have to be the man of the house now. I have big responsibilities.”
Urban Specialists members say they are working to promote positive relationships, brotherhood, and possibilities through the Kingdom Village program.
Organizers say the sessions will be held on a monthly basis. To learn more about Urban Specialists and Kingdom Village, you can visit the group’s website.