Program helps boys connect with mentors

Program helps boys connect with mentors

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Leaders in the African-American community came together Thursday night to talk about role models and mentors for young boys, including some who don't have two parents in their life.

The panel talked about ways to provide them with positive role models.

A group of local leaders at Weeping Willow AME Zion Church in Charlotte talked about what they called, the state of black boys in crisis.

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They learned about programs for children in the community, especially in the summer when children have more free time.

For others, it was about more than just trying to stay busy.

“Stepping up for black boys that don’t have fathers in their lives,” Brett Lofton, 16, said.

Lofton’s parents got a divorce and the help of a mentor, his life was back on track.

“That’s a main reason why black kids join gangs,” Lofton said. “They need brotherhood, needs their parent who is not there.”

Don Thomas is his mentor.

“Their condition -- their needs -- what tools they need to fulfill purpose for which they were created,” Thomas said.

The goal is to connect families that have sons, mostly minority youth, to connect them to mentors and resources.

“That they leave here with a network of men they can lean on and leverage that will lead to success,” Thomas said.

The boys told stories about how they overcame adversity and what others can learn from them.

Lofton said sports are a big help, which gives the boys the brotherhood they need without turning to gangs.

“So they can be pushing the right path, instead of backwards in the wrong path,” Lofton said.

Lofton had to attend Turning Point Academy, but will be returning to his school, Independence High School in the fall.

If you're interested in mentoring, please contact the YMCA, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, or 100 Black Men.

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