By Othor Cain
Sixth grade males from several middle schools across the state participated in an Awards and Recognition Ceremony Sunday, April 28, at the Westin Hotel in Jackson.
The ceremony has become a staple closing event for the young men that are selected as Ambassadors of the Evers Academy for African American Males (A-TEAAM).
The A-TEAAM is a mentorship, character and leadership development program whose aim is to inspire young males of color in middle school and beyond to honor the life and live the legacy of Medgar Evers as they interact with a “village” of role models and mentors. This ‘village’ of mentors provides support and one-on-one guidance utilizing a meaningful curriculum to empower these young men as they matriculate through middle school.
The A-TEAAM movement is to improve the quality of life for young men by equipping them with the necessary skills, knowledge and support provided by mentors. The objective of the A-TEAAM is to assist the young ambassadors in making internal changes with an outcome of increased positive self-esteem and overall improvement in the way they view the world.
During the ceremony, A-TEAAM ambassadors who completed their first year in the mentorship program were recognized and a special tribute was given to the “Ambassador of the Year.” The Ambassadors of the Year, selected by their peers at each participating school, received a bicycle and helmet – compliments of Regions Bank.
During the Awards and Recognition program, ambassadors also received their 9-week contribution to their savings account at Magnolia Federal Credit Union. Representatives from Magnolia were on hand and generated much excitement with the financial deposits.
Another highlight of the mentoring program is that the ambassadors are encouraged to write. Over the course of the year, the ambassadors engaged in writing sessions and Sunday their writings were released in the 2019 A-TEAAM Booklet of writings, “I!CAN Imagine: Voices of Young Authors.”
The A-TEAAM Mississippi is a collaborative effort with 24 community-based organizations.The A-TEAAM has yielded positive results: 51% increased school attendance; 95% increased knowledge of cultural awareness; and 61% increased positive behavioral changes.
What began as a pilot program in two middle schools has now become a National Mentoring Program. The Medgar & Myrlie Evers Institute and the Juanita Sims Doty Foundation have partnered with the Top Ladies of Distinction (TLOD), a national service organization with aligned goals and values and who has 109 chapters across the United States. This partnership was launched during the TLOD 50th Anniversary celebration in Houston, TX in October 2014. A-TEAAM TLOD sites are in Houston, TX, Cincinnati, OH, East St. Louis, IL, Chicago, IL, San Antonio, TX and Raleigh, N.C. TLOD anticipates expanding their sites in other states.
Additionally, Mayor Percy Bland and First Lady Deidre Bland of Meridian, MS have implemented A-TEAAM Meridian in three middle schools in the Meridian Public Schools.
Sam Whitlow, Duane Lightfoot and the Board of Directors of the Bridging the Gap Learning Academy in Louisville, KY launched A-TEAAM Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky in 2016.
This year the A-TEAAM welcomed Cleveland, Miss to the fold.
This article originally appeared in the Mississippi Link.