Local/State

Local groups already doing work to help teens stay out of trouble

Thursday, February 27, 2014

President Barack Obama is calling for vigorous efforts to reverse underachievement by young black and Hispanic males.

He kicked off the "My Brother's Keeper" initiative by speaking in strong, often personal terms.

Meanwhile, people at several nonprofits in the Triangle told ABC11 that they are already doing what they can to help young minority men. All of them said they are truly excited about the potential impact of the president's initiative.

One of them is Wade Harris in Raleigh, who helps young men achieve by changing the way they look at fitness.

"Not necessarily African-American young men because, you know, all boys need help," said Harris.

For about six years, Harris has run Raleigh Personal Fitness to personally train adults, but his real passion is building up young boys.

"We have a motto that it's better to build boys than to mend men," said Harris.

It's a vision he shares with President Obama who Thursday unveiled his new initiative aimed at helping young minority men stay in school and out of prison. The president formed a task force -- asking businesses, politicians and communities to collaborate to make it happen.

"By almost every measure the group that is facing some of the most severe challenges in the 21st century, in this country, are boys and young men of color," said Mr. Obama.

Harris is already doing the work -- offering boys in Raleigh tutoring to academically achieve new heights and using fun physical activities as incentives to maintain optimal health.

"It helps me a lot when I am mentally stress and emotional," said program participant Tahmirr Anderson. "I take it out on thinking or working out."

Anderson, 15, has grown up with a single mother and in foster care. Like Harris, he believes the president's initiative will make a huge difference.

"It's big because as he grew up, he didn't have a father in his life," said Anderson.

"I believe it will inspire men to get involved," said Harris.

Foundation heads have already pledged to invest $200 million over the next five years into the president's initiative. That's on top of the $150 million that the White House is already planning to spend.

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