Bianca Willis is a mother, educator and counselor. She has two sons, Morris, a fourth grader and Mason who’s in the third grade. Her sons are being raised in a world far different from that of her parents and grandparents.
“Because kids are exposed to so much and they have access to things more quickly than we had, so I wanted to make sure they were equipped with things that they needed to know how to rise above any negativity or be a leader and not follow what everyone else is doing because it looks cool. And Men Act This Way is a program that teaches them those type of characteristics that they need to be leaders,” said Willis.
“Men Act This Way” is a partnership between the Alpha Phi Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Greater Peace Baptist Church, and 16 elementary and middle schools in Muscogee County. Both of Willis’ sons are a part of this group.
“It’s so important being that I have male sons and even though they have their dad and he is awesome, I love the fact that they have a different perspective from other men. It’s different things they can learn from different people and the more the merrier,” Said Willis.
Blanchard Middle school fourth grader Chaise Hudgins is a member of “Men Act This Way.” This is his second year in the program. Prior to joining, Chaise says he was disciplined a lot.
“I was kind of bad most of the time. I was messy and stuff. I’d get my tablet taken away and other stuff like that,” said Hudgins.
But since “Men Act This Way,” Chaise has turned it around.
“I’ve learned about kindness, responsibilities I have to put up for,” said Hudgins.
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity brothers Keith Mitchell and Joseph Ladner met us at JD Davis Elementary where they have 28 male scholars enrolled in the program. Teachers and principals choose the male students for the program based on a certain criteria.
“Our criteria is very simple. We’re not looking for the perfect kids, we’re looking for what the school system sometimes call them, the bubble kid. It’s the kid that by influences could go either way. So what we try to identify is that young man that typically doesn’t get involved in a lot of things. He’s not athletically sound. He’s not the academically excellent person that’s getting identified. So we come in and try to capture those young men that with influences they can go make good choices and decisions,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell and Ladner meet with the mentees twice a month with the goal of positioning the young boys to become productive young men in society. There are 300 plus males in the program in Columbus. In 2019 Men Act This Way evolved from another mentoring program called Men of Distinction to include both elementary and middle school males.
Deondrae Watson is also in the program.
He’s learning leadership skills, respect and self control. He looks sharp now, but that has not always been the case.
“In the first grade I was getting in trouble and being a bad child and student,” said Watson.
“Men Act This Way” got a hold of him when he reached third grade. And now in grade four they can see a huge difference.
For more information on “Men Act This Way,” contact Keith Mitchell at (706) 566-1084 or firstname.lastname@example.org.