Bright Spot: Giving young men a leg up

Bright Spot
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Arion Clanton works at Compass Community Schools in Frayser.

“They don’t have a lot of teachers that look like them and so the point of this was to be able to put somebody in front of them that kind of came from the same backgrounds as them, went through some of the same struggles that they’re going through and teach them the ways of how to make it through.”

On the day WREG’s Symone Woolridge stopped by he was teaching some of his students how to prepare a meal.

“He has taught me different things – social and mental -to be a better person in life, in the world,” said Nicolas McCracken.

It’s not just about learning to cook or clean. It’s about aiding young men to become leaders and achievers through a club called The KAPPAS, which stands for “Kids And Parents Preparing Achieving Scholars.”

The students in grades four to eight are paired with mentors who they can call at any time.

One of those mentors is Shaquille Sims.

“To show them a man that’s not a statistic and not selling drugs or don’t want to go to school. Just teaching the kids about being a man and what it takes to be a man.”

“It’s group activities that we can build up our team work and so it’s not like one person does this while everyone else does this. We’re all a team,” said Benjamin Moreno.

Every Wednesday, the KAPPAS meet, wearing bowties and professional clothing. They learn to tie ties, participate in mock interviews, create resumes, change tires, talk to young women and much more.

“So many young men grow up without fathers and so I just want to be able to be that father figure and give them that guidance when they need it.”

Students like Abel Gonzalez notice a tremendous change in their lives. At 12, he realized he wasn’t giving his best effort in school until joining the group.

“My grades were dropping a lot. Then I saw them and then out of no where it just hit me and I started doing better.”

Gonzalez said he’s gained courage and confidence through the program.

All of them want to be one thing: respectable men that will one day pay it forward.

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