Community members gathered at Macon’s Government Center on Saturday to discuss problems facing Macon’s youths.
The forum was part of the national My Brother’s Keeper initiative, launched by President Barack Obama in 2014. It’s meant to address the lack of opportunities for young black men and help ensure that all children can reach their full potential.
Sam Henderson, an executive assistant to the mayor, started the meeting by asking, “How do we ensure that a child comes to school cognitively ready?”
The national initiative revolves mostly around mentorship but also involves things such as goal setting and making sure that students are successful in the community -- in part through increasing graduation rates and job opportunities.
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Young people were encouraged to reach out and find a mentor.
“You’re never too old to have a mentor,” said Virgil Watkins, a Macon-Bibb County commissioner. “I still have a mentor.”
The 30-year-old added that he has mentors over the age of 60, which gives him the benefit of “formally or informally” soaking up their wisdom.
The event drew only about 20 people --and just a handful of younger folks, but Watkins was not discouraged. He attributed the low attendance in part to the lack of social media savviness and last-minute promotion of the event.
The goal is to do these events continually, he said, adding that the local MBK group is going to go straight to young people by visiting middle schools in the coming weeks.
“There’s going to be some value going out into the community,” he said.
After visiting with the students in schools, the next step will be to hold another stakeholders meeting and try to find mentors for children who want them.
“I don’t think any young person should go through their journey without someone there to guide them,” Henderson said.