We have found over the years that to be successful, we must work with Atlanta’s inner city at risk young black males to help them find a new normal. How do we do that? A number of ways, but one of them is that we provide opportunities for life affirming experiences, or activities that emphasize the positive aspects of life. We also engage the community and encourage them to participate in our mission.
Specifically, some of the work we do involves changing perceptions around those who live and work in Atlanta’s inner city communities. This is a big job because we are talking about changing how people think about things. For example, it is not uncommon for the phrase “Atlanta’s inner city youth” to be used interchangeably with “Atlanta’s at risk inner city poor blacks”. Additionally, many think of Atlanta inner city cops as policing and not protecting. Further, television will have many believe, rightly or wrongly, that friction between inner city black males and white cops is the norm. Even if you don't see it on television, you see it in social media. All of these combined present a negative image of both young black men and cops who live and work in Atlanta’s inner city. We are committed to leading change in support of our youth and cops.
Safe at Home is our most recent effort in collaboration with APIVEO the Atlanta Police Department to foster respect between Atlanta’s inner city youth and cops. This event is made up of a series of “get-togethers” that result in numerous and varied experiences for both our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors and Atlanta inner city cops that bolster positive perceptions of each toward the other, and raises the level of favorable nods these groups get from, and within, the community.
|Lt. Hodges and L.E.A.D. Ambassador Cameron Giles (B.E. Mays High School)|
I know what it is like to be an Atlanta inner city poor black male. I was born and raised in one of the most dangerous and poorest black neighborhoods in Atlanta. My family, school and community lacked the resources that were available to kids growing up in wealthier white neighborhoods. I also know that my perception has changed somewhat over the years, but even so, statistics still show that:
Youth from inner city Atlanta zip codes 30310, 30315 and 30318 grow up to represent 80% of the Georgia Prison population.
Georgia ranks number one in incarceration in America while America ranks number one in the world.
Astoundingly, 60% of black males from Atlanta Public Schools will not graduate from high school on time or at all. Meanwhile, the state ranks at the bottom in education in America.
We work with unwavering commitment and urgency to meet our goals to help these kids. Failure is not an option. We cannot erase from the minds of our young Ambassadors the negative influences of the past but we know we can positively influence their future and the Safe at Home experience is one way we do it. I invite you to come out Saturday, August 1, to Georgia Tech’s Russ Chandler Baseball Stadium and try on a new normal. Sit in the stands and cheer for the respect I know you will see happening between L.E.A.D. Ambassadors and the Atlanta Police Department.
When the Safe at Home game is over, I challenge you:
if you have been counted out by the Atlanta Public School system, then apply to become a L.E.A.D. Ambassador, or
if you are an adult who is aching to see a change in our inner city communities, then tell black boys in the inner of Atlanta "you should become a L.E.A.D. Ambassador".