ALBANY — A group of middle school students learned a lesson in R-E-S-P-E-C-T from their elders on Tuesday, and also how to put a Windsor knot in a necktie at the fifth annual Ties That Bind program.
The event brought middle school-age boys, many of whom don’t have a father figure to teach them and provide a role model, together with mentors at the Albany Civic Center.
“I think that this is a good experience for young men here because there are role models here,” Jordan Lewis, 10, told a reporter. “Me, I don’t have a dad in my life at this time. I think this was a good experience for kids who don’t have a dad in their life.”
The mentors in attendance represented a cross-section of professions from medical to business to military, law enforcement and government officials. The boys in attendance are involved in youth programs at the Albany Boys & Girls Clubs, the city of Albany’s Recreation & Parks Department or Choosing Healthy Activities and Promoting Safety, usually referred to C.H.A.M.P.S.
“I say the program is great because it shows us how we should act around other people and how to make women feel comfortable,” Daiveon Davis, 11, said of Tuesday’s luncheon, where the men and boys shared hamburgers and conversation. “It shows us how we need to have respect.”
The event is part of Men’s Health Week, said Darrell Sabbs, community benefits coordinator at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.
“We are holding this annual event to help empower and highlight the importance of men being with boys,” Sabbs told The Herald. “Our saying is: ‘In order to be a man, you’ve got to see a man.’”
Mothers do a lot in nurturing their sons, he said, but at the point when they’re about the age of the boys in the audience they have a desire to build a relationship with an adult male role model.
“If he can’t find it inside the home, he will search for it outside of the home,” he said. “Today, they will learn how to tie a tie, but even more importantly, they will learn the model of caring, sharing and loving.”
The speaker for the event, Frank Wilson, director of the Albany Civil Rights Institute, told the audience that there are rules one must follow, and if not, there are consequences. As a youth in Moultrie, he said, he attended segregated schools where the books were old and there was no ride to campus.
“It bothers me that every news channel has one of us, looks like you, in that news story who didn’t follow the rules,” he said. “In life, there are rules. You cannot get ahead by showing your behind.”