Expanding the community’s capacity and broadening the teen pregnancy prevention approach to include promotion of positive youth development and co-occurrences of health disparities, Connect collaborated with My Brother’s Keeper to launch a new after school program for African American males. Understanding that addressing individual level factors such as mental health and broader contextual factors such as neighborhood safety can affect adolescent behaviors and outcomes. My Brother’s Keeper launched Aban Aya (Ghanaian for protection and self-determination), a model that includes mentoring and weekly curriculum (5th-8th). Participants Savion and Tedrick from Carver Middle have graciously shared their experiences for this week’s blog.
“Aban Aya is a great program because in the program I get to learn about my culture and about things that matter to me. In Aban Aya, we learn about the wonderful contributions blacks have made to the world and we have not gotten a thank you or a pat on the back. At least now, I can be proud of my people and what we have done even if the world will not admit what would be missing if there were no black people. I appreciate Aban Aya because it is showing me what direction my life should be going in. It tells me to choose my own path, be a man, and take a chance to be better. I feel that if I didn’t have Aban Aya in my life, I would be just another black kid that’s out on the streets breaking laws, shooting, and killing my brothers and sisters. In Aban Aya, we used a talking circle. In the talking circle, I felt respected by my brothers because they listen to me and I listened to them. Aban Aya means I am protected and not afraid. I think that Aban Aya would be a great program for other African American young men. Aban Aya teaches us that everybody deserves to be loved, proud and alive.” Savion
“My experiences with Aban Aya is awesome! I have learned so much about my ancestors and that makes me feel great. That really helped me feel good about myself too. I think that Aban Aya helps young men to stop killing each other or going to prison. One of the things I learned is about a staff called an Ankh. It is the African symbol for life. We used it to help us learn to trust each other and listen to one another. That felt great talking and people not laughing or making fun of you. I, myself, am trying to change the way African American males do things. If I were not in this program, I would be getting in the most trouble in school right now. It is helping me see things differently. Maybe in the future, we can gain more brothers to join us. Then, we could lead all African American boys down a trustworthy path to success. ABAN AYA CAN CHANGE THE WORLD because I am protected and I am not afraid to succeed.” Tedrick