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Empowered young men

Catholic archbishop makes an appeal to implement a program to foster the spiritual and social development of males
  • Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder, center, with the young men who participated in the Male Empowerment Program. Also pictured are Aquinas College principal Shona Knowles, third left; Claudette Rolle, director of the Catholic Board of Education, second left, and June Hutchinson from the Catholic Board of Education.

Published: Jul 11, 2013

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Ivar Lightbourne can look back at the school year and smile at the about-face he’s made in life through a mentoring program he enrolled in at Aquinas College during his eleventh grade year. Because of the Male Empowerment Program, Ivar said he has matured physically and can now boast of sharing a spiritual relationship with God.

“I am a changed young man,” Ivar said, adding that his grades have improved and that most importantly, his attitude and outlook on life did a 360-degree turn. He gives all the credit to Barry Wilmott, who mentored a group of young men during the school year through the use of religion.

Ivar said ‘Mr. B’, as he refers to Wilmott, made him look at life differently.

“Without this program, I would not be the positive, spiritual young man that I am now,” said Ivar.

During the commencement of the 2012-2013 academic administrative year, Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder made an appeal to the Catholic Board of Education to implement a male mentoring program in schools throughout the country with an objective of fostering the spiritual and social development of young men in the school system.

Wilmott took on the challenge. He offered his time to mentor a group of 25 young men who need religious guidance at Aquinas College. The program consisted of weekly sessions that took on the form of a group rap session.

After the initial two weeks, Wilmott said the young men were excited and made commitments to attend sessions during their lunch break. During the sessions they dealt with issues pertaining to spiritual development, time management, choices, peer pressure, dating, relationships and topics making news headlines from week to week.

Offering himself as mentor was rewarding to Wilmott.

“I was able to see these young men mature in so many areas of their lives,” he said. “I looked forward to meeting each week because they showed me that they were eager to learn and share in healthy discussions that they all benefited from.”

The program came to a close with the school year, at which time Wilmott challenged the young men to continue to practice what they learned. And he reminded them that they are the future leaders, and that there are children younger than they are who will look to them for answers to many of the social problems that plague the country. After being mentored, Wilmott challenged the young men to become mentors themselves.

Although the program is officially closed until the new school year, Wilmott said the young men agreed to organize monthly follow-up sessions to stay connected and continue to ensure that they all remain on the right path.

“The past seven months made me feel renewed in mind, soul and body,” said Ivar. “They were some of the best months of my life.”

He said he’s a better leader because of the program and as a result, he was selected deputy head boy for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. Ivar thinks the program has helped make him a positive, spiritual young man.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 11 July 2013 15:55


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