PORTSMOUTH — In partnership with the 14th Street Community Center, Watch Me Grow Ohio is relaunching the Future American Men Leadership and Development Program.
The program provides leadership and development opportunities for youth with activities designed to address five primary focus areas: academic success, career preparation, drug prevention, community service, and self-confidence.
Drew Carter, President of the 14th Street Community and WMGO co-founder, said the partnership is off to a good start with support from the Scioto County Prosecutor and Scioto County Juvenile Probation.
“After receiving numerous phone calls from parents expressing their sons are starting to get into trouble and are in need of some positive male involvement, I decided to relaunch FAM,” Carter said in an email. “I believe there’s no such thing as a child who was born bad. All behavior is learned; all behavior is taught.”
At the center of his philosophy is the need for community-based care of children to keep them on the right track in life.
“I believe in the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and we cannot just leave our juvenile system and the court system to be solely responsible for the consequences our children made,” he said.
Statewide, the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Ohio Department of Youth Services report that juvenile arrests disproportionately target minorities. In a 2019 Disproportionate Minority Contact review, the office found that minorities were 4.5 times more likely to be arrested than white youth.
For Black children, the rate is even higher, where they are nearly six times more likely to be incarcerated. Overall in the ODYS Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Report, an average daily population of 463 youth in facilities was recorded. Nearly 60% of all admissions were Black, compared to 33% white.
“It has to be some people in our community that say all children can’t get locked up,” said Carter. “We have to take some serious preventive measures to keep our youth headed towards a brighter future.”
Starting on this Wednesday, FAM will be meeting at the 14 Street Community Center between 5:30-6:30 pm each week. All youth participating in our program will need to be registered, and Carter is the contact for registration forms.
These sessions will be following all recommended covid protocols to make sure everyone remains safe.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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