Montgomery County commissioners have started a new youth initiative aimed at giving young men a positive male role model.
The Male Leadership Academy serves youth ages 14 to 16. Each participant is paired with a mentor to provide guidance and help develop character, soft skills and leadership skills.
Positive mentoring is the core of the program. The curriculum consists of various youth incentive programs, including educational and career awareness activities.
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The pilot program effort this year had 20 enrolled and sought to serve minority males in the west and northwest quadrants of Dayton. It also served as a means of obtaining best practices for the goal of providing a countywide mentoring program for Montgomery County youth.
Commissioner Carolyn Rice said she was excited for the young men and their mentors because they will forge bonds that may last a lifetime.
“Montgomery County has a long history of creating successful youth programs, because we know that investing in our young people pays dividends for our community and our future workforce,” Rice said. “The Male Leadership Academy will connect these young men with male role models, provide them with opportunities for professional and social development, and help prepare them for future success.”
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The kickoff dinner for the program was held in October, and at that time, each of the 20 program participants was paired with a mentor.
All of the mentors participating in the program this year were scheduled to get an extra boost out of it, as they will have training provided to them by Vondale Singleton, who started the C.H.A.M.P.S. Male Mentoring Program at Chicago’s Gary Comer College Prep in 2013 to help black and Latino boys excel in the classroom.
Mason Townsend and his mentor, Montgomery County Sheriff’s office Chief Deputy Daryl Wilson, are happy the county started the Male Leadership Academy.
“I got involved because it gave me a chance to give back to the community. I got involved because someone got involved in my life,” Wilson said. “They made sure I was going in the right direction.”
He said he is now available to help Townsend, noting the academy is about building relationships and having someone to call when you need advice and guidance.
For Townsend, the program is something he hopes will expose him to the leadership and role models that will mean success.
“I was looking online about how to become a better leader,” he explained. “I want to look up to somebody and learn from them. I’m also looking forward to learning more about my city.”
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