Local mentoring program guides at-risk youth

100 Black Men of Indianapolis help young kids

INDIANAPOLIS - A local mentoring program is working to guide at-risk youth who are faced with violence, poverty and peer pressure.

Leaders of The 100 Black Men of Indianapolis mentored kids ages 8 to 10 on Monday. They said reaching kids at an early age is essential.

Robert Hailey said he is just trying to spark a light in the fifth-graders.

"You can still make it no matter all these odds and all those things going on, we want to encourage them to be better than they are today," Hailey said.

Many of the students at Indianapolis Public Schools 51 live in the Martindale-Brightwood community where the median household income is less than $27,000.

Officials with The 100 Black Men youth development group said the kids are not only faced with poverty, but violence.

"We're competing against that because all they know is that they come in and they emulate that, they try to fight, thinking fighting is the way out of everything," Hailey said.

"Studies indicate these men are more likely to end up in criminal behavior, could be influenced by gangs, could be influenced by drugs and alcoholism," Ontay Johnson said.

Mentors want to change that. They said if kids become what they see, hopefully it will make a difference to show them positive male role models.

The group said they need more volunteers -- especially Hispanic males.

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