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Project Mr. empowers Black students on east side of Indianapolis

Posted at 5:00 PM, Oct 23, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — Project Mr., a program that targets personal development, education excellence and career success in the lives of Black students, has expanded to the east side of Indianapolis.

The program that involves boys in grades 7-10 is part of the Center for Leadership Development's mission to empower Black males in our society, and the program is inspiring many who take part in it

"This program is amazing," said 14-year-old Xavier Mattox.

Character, education, service, leadership and careers are just some of the important topics the Center for Leadership teaches boys during the six-week program called Project Mr., which stands for male responsibility.

"We play games. We learn about life and we also talk about choices that are good and bad," Mattox said.

Mattox said Project Mr. has taught him how to treat his parents better and make good decisions, while 13-year-old Joshua Hunt said he is learning how to be a leader.

"I've learned about the consequences of certain decisions and how to be a responsible male," Hunt said.

Not only have they learned meaningful life lessons, they also developed friendships.

"We all push each other to do our best and we have all enjoyed each other's company," Mattox said.

The mentors play a major role in each of these boys' lives. They have small discussions with them. They even hit the court for hands-on activities with the youth.

"We have fun here and they interact with us," Mattox said.

"One of the most predominant responses through our young people in session one when we do our surveys, and we say what was the most important thing you learned today, and so many of our young people will respond and say what I learned today was that I am important. That my life has meaning now I imagine that," said Center for Leadership President Dennis Bland.

On a mission to make a difference in the lives of all Black students, the program recently expanded into satellite buildings on Indy's east side and far east side to reach youth in high crime areas and to take the stress off transportation issues.

"We need to teach people how to show up in right places and be absent from absent harmful places," Bland said.

Around 90 members are a part of Project Mr. right now. The organization holds two programs a year and is encouraging others to join.

"I think that others should join because everyone can be improved in some way, and everyone can be a leader and learn how to become a leader here at this establishment," Hunt said.