St. Rose’s Albert Cammon Middle School recently launched a new youth mentoring program called Man II Man, designed to help guide middle school young men as they transition into adulthood.
“This exclusive young men’s club spawned off of the young ladies club, as a request by young men who were interested in engaging in a similar club,” Albert Cammon Middle School Principal LaSonn Porter said.
The mentorship program is run by St. Rose resident Jorge Walker, involving after school sessions scattered throughout the school year. Man II Man teaches life skills, community concerns and personal development to young men, while sprinkling in fun games and activities to help engage the local youth.
“I remember what it was like to be a young man, but I also recognize that they’re facing challenges today that I didn’t have to face when I was a young man,” Walker said of the issues his program aims to tackle. “Some of those challenges have been amplified with social media and exposure to the internet.”
Walker said his mentoring program addresses fairly “heavy subjects, and it’s relatable.”
His first session entitled “Ignorance is Expensive” dealt with financial literacy, where the group discussed budgeting, the average salary in Louisiana, what sort of qualify of life they wanted to live, and what sort of career path they would have to direct themselves towards to obtain that quality of life.
“And they quickly found out, most people are living in debt, so then we begin to talk about – if people are living in debt and you’re not able to live the quality of life you want based off of the average salary in this area, then what are your solutions?” Walker said.
The discussion later went into picking a career that would interest them and that they would enjoy, while still achieving the quality of life they were looking for.
Walker, an engineer who works on distribution system designs for local engineering firm Empirical Solutions, said rather than complain about the direction of where some of today’s youth are headed, he started Man II Man as a way to become part of a solution – wanting to guide local youth on a better path.
“We really want to build a bond of trust and establish personal connection and relationships with the young men, and let them know that we care, and that we are there for them,” Walker said. “We’re here to give them something, we’re not here to take something from them.”
Walker, who currently self-funds his participation in the mentorship program as well as takes time off from his full-time job to give the various talks, said he hopes to later expand activities offered within the program with outside funding, and would like to bring it to other schools with the help of additional volunteers.