Young Minds Learn the Art of Harmonious Living
May 2018 - During the six years that Men’s and Women’s Leadership Academy has been protecting lives, we have served over 1,000 young people in multiple schools throughout Sacramento City Unified School District from 5th-12th grade. In the past year, we started our first Alumni chapter for our students who are now attending college. Our program has produced high level GPA scores, acceptance into colleges/universities such as Morehouse College, Alcorn State, UC Merced, Sac State and more. Through our amazing partnerships with the Stuart Foundation, Sacramento Kings, Sacramento Republic, Facebook and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, our students have taken journeys to Washington D.C., Atlanta, San Diego, Louisville and soon we will be going to Peru in June of 2019. Men’s and Women’s Leadership Academy is currently producing and releasing a four-part docuseries entitled “#Lifedatamatters” which highlights the work through; 1) The Art of Living Free 2) The Art of Personal Growth 3) The Art of Self-Care/Healing 4) The Art of Life Navigation 5) The Art of the Experience. Life data is the authentic voice of the young people expressing what, why, how and who makes them want to be better students, more importantly, better human beings.
Our children learn reading, writing, math, science and other subjects in school that can help them earn a living. But very few school programs or classes teach young people how to live-how to deal with anger, how to reconcile conflict, how to breathe, smile and transform internal formations. There needs to be a revolution in education and that is what Men’s and Women’s Leadership Academy is working to do. We must encourage schools to teach our students in the art of living in peace and harmony. It isn’t easy to learn how to read, write, or solve math problems but children manage to do it. Learning how to breathe, smile and transform anger can also be difficult, but we have seen many young people succeed. If we teach children properly, by the time they are 12 years old, they will know how to live harmoniously with others. It is our goal to integrate the necessity of academic skills with the purpose of life skills. As we move forward in our work, it is our hope that we can redefine evidence and what it means for our young people to be successful in school and life.
During the weekend, I had the honor of hearing from some great speakers that shed so much wisdom on our young minds, but what really opened me up was a simple writing activity. We were instructed to write a letter of forgiveness to anyone we so choose. I chose myself because before I can forgive anyone else, it starts with me and understanding my problems. As I was writing and just pouring out my emotions on paper, I began to tear up at the fact of how REAL I was being with myself. Many of us must put on a mask every day to appease the world and we pretend like we are okay with it. But, deep down I know I am not okay with that. Writing my letter literally made me so vulnerable that I found myself crying in front of a room of grown men. At that point I didn’t care what I looked like, all I could think of was emotions flooding my head. Happiness, sadness, and anger swept over me and was now manifesting itself through my tears. I have never been pushed to be that real with myself ever before and I will keep my letter and remember that moment for the rest of my life. Going to Atlanta with this group has truly and honestly made me a better man. I understand that just like me, some people deal with issues that go deep beneath their external expressions. The only way to help them is to show them you love them no matter who they are, what they look like, or how they act. We must treat others with respect and love, to help them from the inside, out. What makes us who we are is the sum total of our experiences and I can now add this trip to the collage of experiences I have had and what has made me into the man I am today. Every single one of these things I talked on can’t be taught in a class by a teacher or a curriculum. It can’t be measured by a test or reflected in my GPA. But this trip has taught me so much.
We work with young people who have biographies. They are not data points. The biggest truth in what we do comes from the human assessment of our young people. It is our mission that through a social justice development model, we will empower our young people to become advocates for change in self, community and culture.