Annual sleepover event gives boys male mentors
LIMA, Mar 09, 2013 (The Lima News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
For many little boys, it's difficult to find a positive male mentor.
But at the Bradfield Center Friday night at the I Am My Brother's Keeping Positive Role Model weekend, about 15 boys ages 4 to 12 were grouped with male college students and professionals to incorporate positive role models in their lives. Throughout the evening, they did things like play basketball, have Bible study and learn about black history. The annual event is for boys and girls; girls had their sleepover last weekend.
"We are here to really just give our kids insight as to what they can be," said Elain Watkins, program coordinator with Keeper of the Dream Ministry, providing various programming for children and seniors.
It's a program that's been established for nearly 30 years, pairing boys with men and girls with women. Mary Monford, founder and director, said the event stemmed from a sleepover her daughter had.
"We want them to know that there are people from Lima who are doing great things," Monford said.
For 13-year-old B.J. Miller, the sleepovers were always something to look forward to doing. When he was younger, he enjoyed "the older kids, showing us what to do, and looking up to them." But this time, he's a junior mentor, and the younger boys will now be looking up to him.
Raphael Johnson, 38, works at Quest Academy Community School in Lima, was a program mentor for the first time. He taught the boys about black history and making future goals.
"The only way to make black history is for them to make their own history," Johnson said. "And in looking at that, you have to look at the difference between the professions you want to be. It's OK to want to be an NFL star, it's OK to want to be an NBA star, but what if that doesn't work What's your plan B And always have something you can focus on so that you can make it through life."
Other mentors are college students from the University of Toledo, local barbers and other professionals, showing the boys what they do.
Watkins said a mantra they like to repeat is, "It's not where you live, it's what lives in you."
"We are tired of seeing our children go astray," Watkins said. "And if we can save just one or two, then I know we've made a difference."
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