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Youth Programs

Robinson Gardens Youth Group joins Black Men of Greater Springfield

Robinson Gardens Youth Group joins Black Men of Greater Springfield

As breakfasts go, it was more than decent: Eggs, bacon, sausage, grits and orange juice.

But the recent morning meal at the Third Baptist Church on Walnut Street was way more than that: It marked a uniting of forces between the Black Men of Greater Springfield and Springfield Housing Authority’s Robinson Gardens Youth Group, which aims to focus teens on the important things such as education and jobs.

For the four teens who attended the annual breakfast with SHA Youth Coordinator Jimmie Mitchell, the morning session was proved enlightening.

“They talked to us about how kids grow up to be men, and how to do that right,” said Kashawn Lenoir, who is 13 and a nearing the end of sixth grade at Kennedy Middle School.

Kashawn Lenoir, 13, and SHA Youth Engagement Coordinator Jimmie Mitchell.

Kashawn Lenoir, 13, and SHA Youth Engagement Coordinator Jimmie Mitchell.

“It was pretty good. They told us we need to stay in school, do our homework, and do something good with ourselves. And the food was pretty good too,” he added.

Mitchell got the invite to the breakfast awhile back from Black Men of Greater Springfield President Lapheris “Al” Powers, who heard about the Robinson Gardens Youth Group and could see a great potential for partnership. Mitchell knew right away that the established and respected men’s group would be a perfect fit for his mission.

“We want all of our youth to do well, and that’s exactly their goal,” Mitchell said. “So right away, I said we’ll be there. Yes, yes yes.”

Joining Mitchell and Kashawn on April 18 were Kashawn’s brother Darius Lenoir, 16, James Scott, 15, and Brandon Green, 18.

Keynote speaker at the event was international consultant Ted Childs Jr., a son of Springfield who retired as vice president at IBM and now leads a firm – Ted Childs LLC — that spans the globe.

Powers said he invited the Robinson Gardens Youth Group after learning of them in the local media. Now that they have met, he is determined to find new ways to connect and help make a positive mark on the teens as they focus on the important matters of education and growing up.

“Our mission is to give boys foundation, strength, and guidance from older men,” Powers said. “Nowadays, you don’t see often boys with men. Having good strong men in their lives is a good thing.”

SHA Youth Engagement Coordinator Jimmie Mitchell with, left to right, Darius Lenoir, James Scott and Kashawn Lenoir.

SHA Youth Engagement Coordinator Jimmie Mitchell with, left to right, Darius Lenoir, James Scott and Kashawn Lenoir.

The Black Men group sponsors a variety of activities, including a summer technology program at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Conn., which the Robinson Gardens teens may be able to join. The group is patterned after the national group ‘100 Black Men,’ and has membership including professionals, semi-professionals, tradesmen and those from all walks of life. More than 100 area men are involved in working with dozens of boys and teens.

Powers said he looks forward to including the Robinson Gardens youth in the ongoing efforts.

“We’d like to do some joint ventures, start working together,” Powers said. “We’re all on the same page. We might as well share the path together.”

Darius Lenoir said that after the breakfast, he looks forward to the collaboration.

“The breakfast was good, and we heard a pretty good speech about being a better person, and working hard in school,” Darius said.

 

 

3376 days ago / Youth Programs
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