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Just for Kids Mentoring program helping young men become good, productive citizens

Jackson Advocate - 1/21/2017

Four years ago Johnny Brown founded "Just for Kids Mentoring," a nonprofit organization to help young men become good and productive citizens.

Brown utilizes his barbershop by the same name as the headquarters to render program services. Through conversations with the young men sitting in his barber chair, he soon discovered that they were in need of guidance counseling, structure and a male figure to bond with as many did not have father figures in their lives.

The Just for Kids mentoring program also provides vocational training in the barbering trades. Young adult students (18-24-year-old) from Jackson State University; and younger kids ages 5 through 14 years old and older kids (15-17-year old) are recruited from the Jackson Public Schools (Hinds County) in the metropolitan area as identified by public school counselors and principals to be at-risk, needing services to channel their activities in a positive direction.

Just for Kids' mission is threefold:

1. To provide group and one-on-one mentoring while sponsoring youth oriented events that positively impact their lives.

2. Administer a vocational training program centered around single family housing with trades such as carpentry, painting, electrical and plumbing.

3. Administer a barber school program to provide a career opportunity in the hair care industry.

Additionally, the organization strives to help participants make better life-long decisions and achieve their highest potential as law-abiding citizens while creating a sense of community among all age participants.

The program initiatives and objectives are:

*Provide general guidance and mentoring to at-risk youth at least once per week

*Promote personal and social responsibility

*Increase participation in attaining education goals at the elementary and secondary levels by establishing a developmentally appropriate vocational and barbering skill-building career in conjunction with mentoring to sustain educational involvement to ensure the best possible outcomes and support post-secondary education that includes terminal degrees and or entry into technical careers

*Discourage use of illegal drugs and firearms, involvement in violence, gangs and other delinquent activity

*Encourage participation in service and community activities that help develop respect for themselves and others

*Increase personal and social competencies through the integration of mentoring with vocational and barbering programs, bonding with mentors,

engaging in pro-social activities and exposure to activities and events that foster future thinking

*Offer mentoring activities during school, after school, holidays and weekends that include tutoring, career exploration, life skill development, game playing, field trips, entertainment/cultural/sporting events

*Introduce youth to resources that they otherwise may not come in contact with

*Provide opportunities via projects that encourage kids not to engage in self-destructive behaviors which reduces crime and keeps them out of the the penal system

The organizational performance measures are to screen, train and provide professional mentors for 100 youth per year.

Just for Kids, Inc. (Barbershop) is located at 2570 Bailey Avenue in Jackson, MS 39213. Contact the Program Coordinator, Ms. Hunter at (601) 769-230-5005 for additional information concerning program requirements and services.

By Brinda Fuller Willis, PhD

Jackson Advocate Contributing Writer


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