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Ohio State group aims to influence men of tomorrow

Mentor Tavaris Shaw sits with his two mentees to work on a reading comprehension worksheet through the Men of Tomorrow program. Credit: Akayla Gardner | For The Lantern

When most students are starting their weekend, a group of Ohio State students are spending their Friday afternoons volunteering at Trevitt Elementary School on the east side of Columbus.

A back-and-forth game of kickball unfolds in the gymnasium. Both volunteers and students alike argue over the scoreboard and hold their heads in their hands in frustration.

Although 10 years separate the volunteers from the children, they don’t go easy on them. In fact, this is common for the after-school program; the boys are held to a higher standard.

“I try to voice to the kids that life is going to be full of hardships and it’s not going to be easy growing up,” Tavaris Shaw, a first-year in exploration, said.

In 2015, Ohio State’s Department of Social Change established the Principal Pride Program to facilitate mentorship between male college students and local young men. This year, the program’s name changed to Men of Tomorrow to paint a clearer picture of what it hopes to achieve.

Co-site leaders Suhaib Abudulwahed, a third-year in neuroscience, and Sly Worthy Jr., a second-year in African-American and African studies, said they thought the name Principal Pride might scare kids away from the program when they advertised it.

“We wanted it to be more of a brotherhood,” Worthy said. “The name was more relevant to what we were doing.’”

A mentee in the Men of Tomorrow program eats the food that’s brought in by the program’s mentors. Credit: Akayla Gardner | For The Lantern

The majority of students who attend Trevitt come from low-income households with most being eligible for free or reduced lunch, according to Public School Review.

“The kids come in hungry and that’s just the reality of it. The first thing they ask about is food: ‘What are we getting today?’” Abudulwahed said.

Bringing in meals became part of the program’s culture since its early stages when former department head Patricia Cunningham Jr. would bring food, like Subway or pizza.

The co-site leaders plan weekly activities for their mentees, who vary from week to week between 10 and 20 students.

Activities are not only focused on reading and other educational skills, but geared toward getting the boys to think critically about society.

According to Niche, a ranking and review website for K-12 schools, 12 percent of students at Trevitt meet state standards for reading proficiency and 8 percent meet the standards for math.

Worthy said teachers told him they see progress in the performance of several returning students who attended the program.

“I’m just trying to instill everything that I wish was instilled in me at that age, so that’s the rewarding part of it,” Worthy said. “You do get to see them grow and you get to see them mature.”

The Engaged Scholars logo accompanies stories that feature and examine research and teaching partnerships formed between The Ohio State University and the community (local, state, national and global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources. These stories spring from a partnership with OSU’s Office of Outreach and Engagement. The Lantern retains sole editorial control over the selection, writing and editing of these stories.

One comment

  1. Public schools, by law, are required to notify Social Services if students come from houses where their basic needs (food, clothing, etc.) are neglected. So I’m confused as to why the mentors and/or school administrators didn’t do so.
    Although this mentor program sounds excellent, working with Social Services to provide neglected students with a stable foster home would be a better outreach goal.

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