Parents see improvements at school and at home from the boys of this mentoring program.
By Blake Carter
Fifteen years ago a group of African-American men saw a need in their community. They saw a number of young boys who were being raised without the guidance of a male role model. To help single mothers, the men created the mentoring group Tungsten Proteges.
“The strongest metal known to man is tungsten, and with proteges, we want to teach the boys how to be strong,” said Daniel Leathers, a mentor with the organization. “How to withstand anything that life throws at them.”
This mentoring group meets twice a month, on Tuesday evenings at the First United Methodist Church of Inglewood, which is near Manchester Boulevard and Market Street.
The purpose of this free program is to teach the boys, aged seven to 17, critical and independent thinking, how to make the proper choices, and life skills such as dressing properly, how to interview, how to pick friends, and how to interact with authority figures.
Leathers has seen a positive impact on the boys after they have been a part of the program for some time.
“A lot of times the boys will start off with being very shy, or their public speaking leaves a lot to be desired,” he said. “A lot of the new mentees won’t make eye contact, so one of the things that we practice is making eye contact and having a firm handshake. We’ll see them become more confident in expressing themselves.”
The mentees are required to turn in their report cards, which has led to an improvement in academic performance.
“We see a positive impact mainly because they have to be accountable to somebody besides their mother,” Leathers said. “When they bring their report cards to one of us, they know that it’s going to be a different conversation than it would be with their mother.”
The mothers have also noticed positive changes with their sons at home.
“We’ve heard from the mothers that the boys become more helpful around the house,” Leathers said. “A lot of the chores that the mom would have to threaten the boys to do, they’ll start doing it without her asking, or if she has to ask, the job gets done better.”
The mentors are all professionals who come from a variety of careers, which include engineering, law enforcement, business, management, and college counseling.
Many of the children either go off to college or they enter the workforce right out of high school.