Dayton Kappas: Mentors energize black male students

More than 200 black men visited Dayton Public Schools classrooms on Wednesday, talking to black male students about paths to success.

The event was part of Dayton’s Men of Color initiative, a local effort to have positive role models mentor at-risk youth as part of President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.  Dozens of black men greet students with cheers Wednesday as they arrive at Dayton Boys Prep Academy on West Third Street. … read more

State Rep. Fred Strahorn, the Ohio House minority leader, called on a group of Wednesday’s volunteers to make their help in the schools more consistent, arguing that education is the key to Dayton children’s success.

“We have to show up, on a regular basis, and fill the gap, rather than waiting for folks in Columbus to get it right, because that may or may not happen,” Strahorn said. “If we can get this right, a lot of kids who statistically ‘aren’t supposed to make it,’ will make it … and make it big.”

Former NFL star Keith Byars, community activist Marlon Shackelford and three dozen others greeted elementary students with cheers as they arrived at Dayton Boys Prep Academy.

Fashion designer L’Amour A-K Ameer speaks to Dunbar Early College Academy students Wednesday, as State Rep. Fred Strahorn, former NFL star … read more

City Commissioner Joey Williams and fashion designer L’Amour Ameer were among a crowd of men who spoke to students at Dunbar High School about overcoming obstacles and chasing their dreams.

“Don’t let people tell you what you cannot do,” Ameer told students, adding that he did not let poverty or an absent father stand in his way. “Know what you want and go for it.”

Dunbar junior Ahman Wallace said hearing so many community leaders tell their stories and offer students help gave him insight on his own life.

“They let you know that you have a variety of opportunities in life, and it helps to hear that every door is open to you,” Wallace said. “But it’s also good to have a set goal that you want to accomplish.”

That was one of Byars’ messages, as he asked a student who talked about engineering to get specific. Did he want civil or electrical engineering? What would he do with that degree?

“You gotta believe in yourself. Dream the dream, guys,” Byars said. “Who’s to say the person to cure AIDS or cancer is not in this room? Be specific. Set your sights on a goal and go for it.”

Seeing doctors, business executives, former mayors and others make time for the students was important to Dunbar senior Mychole Taylor.

“I don’t know if it motivated everybody else, but it motivated me to stay on the right path, not be around the wrong people, and get other people to do the same thing,” he said.

City Commissioner Jeff Mims, chairman of the Men of Color Committee, said he’s trying to create a cycle that leads to current students becoming the next generation’s mentors.

“You can see the potential of the young men we have here,” Mims said. “And when you see them five or 10 years later making a positive contribution to society, it makes your heart smile.”

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