Event Puts the Crowning Touch on the Sons & Brothers Campaign Launch
Wednesday, October 9, 2013 will forever live in infamy in the hearts and minds of 15 youth and young adults who were anointed “King for a Day.” Their life changing experience started at Manual Arts High School where they participated in The California Endowment Sons & Brothers Campaign launch and Student Recovery Day effort and ended bidding farewell to Double Platinum recording artist “The Game,” with whom the young people had spent the evening in a luxurious suite watching the Los Angeles Kings defeat the Ottawa Senators.
“I really enjoyed speaking with my fellow students and inviting them to come back to school,” said Shaquan Woods, a youth who himself just a few months earlier decided to return to and finish school as a result of joining the Brotherhood Crusade BLOOM program and YouthSource Center. “I feel I have a lot to share with these students because I am one of them and I am going through the same experiences.”
Woods was not alone in this assessment. Many of the youth enrolled in the Brotherhood Crusade YouthSource Center and/or BLOOM program, who arrived at Manual Arts High School early Wednesday morning for a 9:00 AM student recovery training and 10:00 AM outreach effort, expressed similar sentiments.
“The students kept asking me why I had this uncontrollable, never ceasing smile on my face”, said one Brotherhood Crusade mentor. “The truth is that I was overwhelmed seeing young people who themselves were disengaged from school less than six months prior, passionately and sincerely encouraging their peers to return to school and sharing the message ‘we love you, we need you and we deeply care about you.’”
Significantly, The California Endowment, California’s largest healthcare foundation, announced a $50-million initiative to support minority boys and young men. Given the staggering odds against these young men succeeding in school and in future careers, the Endowment’s seven-year project aims to boost attendance 30% in targeted schools, reduce by half the number of those suspended, train campus police on the effect of trauma on students, establish conflict-resolution programs in 10 communities, develop 1,000 youth leaders and make sure all eligible children have health coverage.
Several dignitaries and celebrities were on-hand to support the campaign launch and student recovery efforts including actor Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy and The Butler); actor Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver); Olympic Gold Medalist, NFL’s Fastest Man and former World’s Fastest Man Ron Brown; Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent Dr. John Deasy; LAUSD School Board Member Steve Zimmer; Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas; assemblymembers Steve Bradford and Reginald Jones-Sawyer; Pasadena City Council member Jackie Robinson; Carson City Council member Mike Gipson; California Community Foundation President and CEO Antonio Hernandez; and California Endowment President and CEO Dr. Robert K. Ross.
King for a Day activities culminated with a journey to Staples Center to watch the Los Angeles Kings defeat the Ottawa senators in overtime. This experience was momentous for several reasons. First, as a result of the generosity and deep commitment of AEG executive Larry Abel and his clients, the young people were treated to an evening in a luxurious 24-person suite. As soon as the young people were comfortably settled in the suite, they were surprised by Double-Platinum recording artist “The Game,” who subsequently spent the remainder of the evening watching the game with the young people.
“I never even met a big celebrity and tonight I got to spend three hours with a superstar. This is one of the best days I ever had in my life,” said one of the young people.
Like all Brotherhood Crusade Youth Development activities, there was a deeper purpose for the events and activities of the day. The campaign launch was purposed to share the genuine commitment of Brotherhood Crusade, The California Endowment, California Community Foundation, LA’s Promise, Community Coalition and their partners to the success of South Los Angeles youth and young adults in school and in life. Student recovery efforts tangibly demonstrate this commitment but also provide the young people with opportunities to develop empathy, sympathy and compassion for others while becoming change agents for the community and giving credence and empowerment to their voice. Lastly, the Staples Center experience teaches mainstream assimilation; helps youth manage and navigate larger systems; prepares young men for work, career and entrepreneurial opportunities; and continues to reiterate one of Brotherhood Crusade’s key messages – you never know who you are going to meet or how someone may impact your life. Therefore, you should always be prepared and ready academically, socially, physically and aesthetically.
Key elements of Brotherhood Crusade’s uniquely innovative youth development approach includes understanding the principles of Ubuntu; assessing the impact of mental captivity on low-income youth of color; determining one’s value proposition; developing and maintaining positive, mutually beneficial networks; getting prepared for success and the expectations of readiness; understanding self and defining purpose; ascertaining the rewards associated with delayed versus immediate gratification; deconstructing sacrifice; and investigating the impact of structural, institutional and architectural racism on young men of color.
Taken together, the “King for a Day” experience provided the young men with valuable and transferrable skills that will serve them well immediately and long into their collegiate and professional lives.