KCK mentor program helps steer black youth in right direction - KCTV5 News

KCK mentor program helps steer black youth in right direction

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OK Program mentors area youth OK Program mentors area youth

A national program that has touched the lives of thousands of African-American boys in order to reverse the high rates of homicides and incarceration among youth is in need of local mentors.

On a recent chilly Saturday morning, a group of teens looked through a Walmart 18 wheeler. The idea was to give the youth a first-hand look at what driving a truck might be like. They're too young to know what they'll do for a living, but the point of the get-together is to get them moving in the right direction.

"We want to make sure these young men can come out of high school prepared for life, prepared to be better fathers, better men, not wind up incarcerated, volunteer Jonathan Westbrook said.

Westbrook is a Kansas City, KS police officer. On weekends, he's a mentor for the OK Program, which stands for Our Kids. The program meets Saturdays with African American boys aged 12 to 18 which are critical and impressionable years.

"Because I as an officer for nine years have spent so much time locking African American men up, this program is saving young black men from encountering police, the negative side," Westbrook said.

They eat, they shoot hoops, they talk and they learn. There's no shortage of boys for the program. More than 200 students from Coronado and Schlagle high schools are already enrolled.

But, there is a shortage of volunteers - African American men who want to help mentor the next generation.

"There are men from the community. These are men we've recruited. They're everyday working men of different professions. That's is important for them (the kids) to see men from all different walks of life," said Donald Northcross with the OK Program.

And, it's important for the boys to know there's always someone there for them.

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