LUBBOCK, Texas— During lunch on Tuesdays at Rise Academy Charter School in east Lubbock, a group of 5th to 8th grade boys are receiving lessons that will last them a lifetime.
“You’ve got to tell the world how to treat you because if the world tells you how you are going to be treated, then we’re in trouble,” said Jafar Abdullah, a leader with the Lubbock YWCA’s “Amend Together” program.
This particular class is on respect – paired with learning how to properly shake a hand.
The weekly program is part of a new year-long partnership between Rise Academy and the YWCA to mentor and teach middle school boys how to become better men.
“We talk about everything under the sun as far as being a young man,” said Abdullah. “Conflict resolution in the real world, how to use our goals as a way to protect ourselves, and how to properly hold a conversation with a young lady.”
Rise Academy’s founder and director Richard Baumgartner says he was impressed with what the mentoring program offered and believes it is “perfect” for this specific age group.
“They’re starting to figure out who they are and in today’s world, and what it means to be a man,” said Baumgartner.
According to Amend Together, another major focus of the program is cultivating a culture that supports and protects women.
“Our goal is to make Lubbock the safest city for young ladies and women,” said Abdullah. “Part of being a gentleman is to ensure that everyone, particularly the young ladies, are safe around us.”
While it’s only week two of these “Boys to Men” lessons, what’s being taught at lunch appears to striking a chord with the students.
“We learn how to be respectful because out in the world, respect is all that matters and all that counts,” said Zion Cyphers, a 7th grader.
Abdullah calls the group of boys “amazing.”
“They’re the future, gifted, talented, smart, and intellectual,” said Abdullah. “Honestly, it’s a blessing just to be able to hang out with them.”