ATLANTA – On most Monday evenings at Clear View Ministries Church, I meet with a group of 8-13-year-old boys. On Dec. 5, we were in the middle of our “A Better Man is the Bigger Man” series, designed to help them respond responsibly to others and situations when angry or bullied. During this particular night, group facilitator and licensed therapist, Roshonda Boone, tried to help the boys learn how to TAKE A BREAK when angered or bullied. Unfortunately, they were distracted and squirrely and didn’t realize how important the information was to their survival. So, I interjected. 

“Last night, each of you came to my mind when I saw a tragic news story that happened right here in Atlanta.” I started, referring to the shootings of 12-year-old Zyion Charles and 15-year-old Cameron Jackson.

“How many of you are eleven or twelve?” I continued. Half the young men in the room raised their hands in an affirmative response. 

“Well, a 12-year-old boy was shot and killed last week by someone angry,” I paused as the boys went silent. “Fellas, it broke my heart because he was your age! What if Zyion’s killer knew how to take a break and redirect their anger like we are learning today?”

Astonishment stole the expressions on their faces. They couldn’t believe that someone their age could die nor that something so tragically similar could happen to them. In their mind, things like that only happen to older people. 

The loss of Zyion and Cameron and my time with the young men on that Monday reminded me of King Solomon’s statement to his people, “The whole city celebrates when the godly succeed…Upright citizens are good for a city and make it prosper.” (Proverbs 11:10-11, NLT)

Here at the Resurgence Leadership Foundation (RLF), we desire to see communities flourish, which is why we are so invested in mentorship. We subscribe to Positive Youth Development (PYD) which suggests that young people possess resources that can be developed, nurtured, and cultivated. Through this process, our proven mentoring programs promote the “Five Cs”: competence, confidence, connection, character and care.

Incubating Youth Mentoring Programs, like Young Commanders and Precious Me, Inc., and certifying and equipping mentors for the past decade through our Youth Mentoring Collaborative, is RLF’s contribution to uplifting and building flourishing communities.

As we observe National Mentoring Month, I stand with the RLF Board of Directors, staff, volunteers and mentees who so desperately need us at this moment. We invite you to join our mission of building a just society. Your investment and our resolve will change the feelings evoked by “He was your age” from dread to joy. It’s our shared responsibility to ensure our teens are equipped and empowered by trained and passionate mentors to make beneficial decisions that lead to a better community and a more just society. 

May your connection with the Resurgence Leadership Foundation be your celebratory step for National Mentoring Month!