Building Men Program Hosts Community Violence Awareness Walk/Run“As you run and participate in the events today, I encourage you to have conversations about how you can help prevent violence.”
Matthew White, a Nottingham sophomore, shared this request as he greeted a group of middle school boys from Frazer, Huntington, and Roberts in his welcome remarks.
Matthew and his high school Building Men Program counterparts had spent the summer planning for this event: the Building Men ‘Run for a Better Tomorrow’ walk and run, intended to awareness about community violence… and put a stop to it.
“Our whole idea is to prevent community violence,” Matthew shared as participants broke into groups to kick off the event. “We want the young men here to talk about these things. We hear so often that young men are the ones creating the violence… so this is our way of coming together to stop it. When you hear these messages from an adult, it doesn’t mean as much. They don’t live our life. They don’t know what we go through. They’re almost like outsiders. But to hear from us – when we’ve been in their shoes just a couple years ago – we’re hoping they hear that we understand. We’re hoping they take what we say to heart.”
“We spent the summer talking about how to be better people, and how to better our lives for the future,” Henninger junior Noah Ginty explained. “These days, especially in the City schools, we see and hear about violence all the time. We want to do something – we want to make things better. The middle school students often look up to the high school students. They want to fit in. But so many of them don’t have a positive influence. In the Building Men Program, we hope to be that positive influence for them. We hope we can really make a change.”
The group of Building Men students came together and walked around the Corcoran stadium track. Then, they broke into groups to participate in the Building Men Olympics – where they competed in running, jumping, and throwing events. They wrapped up the day with ice cream sandwiches and a closing ceremony to reiterate the goal of the day: do the right thing. Help stop the violence. Be a positive force in our community.
During the event’s keynote address, Eddie Mitchell of Project A.N.G.E.L. (Avoid Negative Garbage Enjoy Life) spoke with attendees about the importance of making good choices.
“My main goal is to help kids like you learn to be respectful and responsible and not fall victim to violence in the streets,” Mr. Mitchell shared with the group. “If you want to be a professional athlete one day, you have to have good grades. If you’re going to be an athlete, all that ‘hood stuff is over. Be respectful. Work hard. Pay attention in school. Ask for help. And enjoy being kids!”
SCSD Superintendent Anthony Davis also shared some words of inspiration with the students, telling them of his own experiences as a high school athlete at Henninger High School and the importance of having a backup plan when it came to planning his future.
“Young people are wreaking havoc in our community right now,” Superintendent Davis shared. “People like you are going to change that. You can do anything you want to do. Take care of yourselves and the people around you. Respect yourself, respect your community, respect your schools. Perform in the classroom – it will open doors for whatever else you want to do in life.”
Building Men Program Executive Director Joe Horan said he hopes to expand the ‘Run for a Better Tomorrow’ event in future years – with the goal of incorporating community participation next year, and possibly even turning the event into a 3K or 5K.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a number of years,” Mr. Horan said. “I told the boys my vision: to start an awareness walk/run for our community and what we can do to stand up against violence. Then, I left it in their hands. They wanted to address all violence in our community – not just gun violence. It’s a powerful message, coming from our high school students, who are mentors and role models to the younger boys. I hope the run will grow bigger and really serve as a platform for our Building Men boys to speak out and say: this is the kind of community we want.”
We’re proud of the Building Men participants for their leadership – and we look forward to seeing how the ‘Run for a Better Tomorrow’ event expands in the future!