Richmond, Va. (April 9, 2013) — About 120 male students from two Richmond City high schools, Huguenot and Armstrong, will be honored during halftime at a Richmond Raiders football game on April 13 at 7 p.m. The students will be recognized for their participation in a unique, seven-week pilot program titled “Male Teen Talk,” presented by First Things First of Greater Richmond and Richmond Public Schools (RPS). Aimed at molding at-risk ninth-and-tenth grade males, the series kicked off in early February and concludes at the football game.
During the halftime presentation, Deputy Director for the Richmond City Health District, Danny Avula, will give a short message. Next, First Things First facilitator Lemar Bowers will recognize the students and award two students with grand prizes for participation in the program. Representatives from Richmond Public Schools will be present at the event.
According to Huguenot Principal Jafar Barakat, “The Project Male Teen Talk Mentoring Program shaped up to be a critical ingredient in our ability to lay the framework for sustainable school transformation at Huguenot High School this year. For my students to be honored that night, it would mean that their hard work, engagement and dedication to the program have paid off. It would be a testament of their positive journey this school year.”
Armstrong Principal April Hawkins said, “In the planning phase, all stakeholders knew in order to yield desired outcomes, it was necessary for the mentors to establish relationships between youth that involved patterns of regular contact over a significant period of time, and First Things First did exactly that with the intentional program sessions for our male students. Our young black students may be labeled at-risk because of socioeconomic factors which are totally out of their control, but I/we will not give up on the endless possibilities of success through perseverance.”
Weekly discussions and trainings led by local and national experts in the business, financial, education and human services fields provided the students with enhanced skills to increase financial literacy, develop healthy relationships, and the risks and responsibilities of teen fatherhood.
Approximately 60 students at each school attended the weekly programs, spurred on by motivational speaker Ray Roberts, a former University of Virginia All American and NFL first-round draft pick for the Seattle Seahawks who later played for the Detroit Lions. Roberts greeted the students at the opening events along with local creative rapper Marquise Trent. Both men set the tone for active participation and mutual respect. Each session in the series included small group discussions designed to engage students and help them apply key principles in their lives. The series ended with a final creative competition in which students shared lessons learned through various mediums for a chance to win Beats Headphones.
The “Male Teen Talk” pilot is funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (USHHS) and is coordinated by First Things First of Greater Richmond.