At Magic Fingers Barbershop in Memphis, boys fill the car parking zone every summer time day and sometimes all through the college 12 months, too. They arrive to get haircuts or store on the close by comfort retailer. Once in a while, they stand in entrance of the shop, providing to do odd jobs to allow them to get one thing to eat on the Magic Wings subsequent door. Typically mother and father depart their youngsters within the car parking zone, utilizing them as bait to panhandle.
When the boys congregate, too typically, the impulse is to pressure them to depart, however store proprietor Jason Bobo, and the boys who run and go to the barbershop took a special strategy. We determined to fulfill the youngsters the place they’re, actually; 5 years in the past, in that car parking zone, we began a boys mentoring program known as Magic Dads.
Lengthy earlier than Shelby County College Board members issued their name to motion to curb gun violence and youth violence on Monday, I’ve been working with my group Magic Dads to just do that. As a particular training educating assistant, I do know that every little thing youngsters expertise of their communities follows them by the schoolhouse doorways.
Day-after-day, youngsters are strolling to highschool and summer time camp carrying the load of bookbags and trauma. As a graphic artist, I noticed their ache firsthand once I owned a customized T-shirt store, and about 65-70% of my revenue was from RIP tees. These shirts, generally worn at funerals and memorials, characteristic the title and picture of the deceased, and about half the time, the faces staring again at me on shirts had been younger victims of gun violence, teenagers, and younger adults who by no means noticed their thirtieth birthdays. Some younger boys had a complete assortment of those shirts as a result of they’d misplaced so many buddies, cousins, and classmates.
I noticed how demise’s repeated blows disturbed them. The tutorial struggles. The unhealthy relationships. The compulsive and unexplained misbehavior. The anxiety-driven fears. The despair. Based on the Facilities for Illness Management, 3.2% of youngsters ages 3-17 have been recognized with despair, and seven.1% have been recognized with nervousness.
We’d like our elected officers from the native degree to the nationwide degree to take fast motion to assist distressed households. But our Normal Meeting has but to go a measure that will improve funding for college counselors and decrease the counselor-to-student ratio.
Now greater than ever, we’d like further counselors in our colleges as a result of homicides have spiked in Memphis, and digital studying has created a distance in student-teacher interplay. Within the fall, we’ll have the added problem of returning to highschool throughout a pandemic that has led to will increase in despair, trauma, and crime. Counselors and educators are the actual frontline heroes and, merely put, we’d like extra heroes in our colleges.
Till then, the boys of Magic Dads will proceed our car parking zone ministry. Personally, I’m devoted to this work as a result of, in 2009, my cousin was shot and killed throughout a theft, and I need to attain our Whitehaven youth earlier than they’re looking at or holding a gun.
We need to increase our outreach to incorporate tutoring and anti-gang, anti-drug, and anti-bullying initiatives, however all of us who do hands-on work in our communities want extra assist from native politicians, pastors, and oldsters. As a result of a variety of the misery stems from poverty, we’d like extra job placement applications for adults and teenagers, and we’d like extra monetary literacy applications which are simply accessible.
We additionally want extra foot troopers to hitch us within the discipline as we do the gritty day-to-day work of teaching, counseling, and generally consoling youngsters. With fewer press conferences and extra neighborhood collaborations, we are able to create extra protected areas for kids within the classroom — and out of it, too.
Dedrick Ford is an artist, particular training educating assistant, father of three, and the founding father of Magic Dads youth mentoring program.