Southeast Queens parents often find themselves struggling to keep their sons from succumbing to the temptations of street life, but a St. Albans program offers them one more tool to help make that effort a little easier.
Becoming Exceptional Adult Males, a new program hosted by the St. Albans Congregational Church, is a forum for young males to connect with role models and father figures in a positive, welcoming environment.
Created through a state grant, the program, which has expanded since its first meeting Sept. 10 to include girls as well, meets twice a month and creates a positive, judgement-free environment for youths.
“There was a grant given for a group to provide a way for minority males to be uplifted from an academic, cultural and social level,” Earl Davis, a coordinator for the group and church member, said. “One of our goals is to expose our young men and young women to cultural, career-type individuals who are from this community, by bringing them in to talk to our kids. We’ve had an array of different topics that motivate our kids to make uplifting decisions with their lives.”
At its Jan. 22 meeting, the group featured Keisha Williams, a drug and violence prevention counselor at nearby MS 8 and PS 109 in Queens Village, who discussed topics including self-image, decision-making, conflict management and Internet safety with about a dozen middle and high school members of the BEAM program, many of whose parents stayed for the program.
The group has watched a baseball game together at Yankee Stadium, held a succession of informative meetings, has plans to visit the White House with state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and set up a formal dance where the youths can learn to interact with one another in a refined manner.
Angela Daniels of Jamaica stayed with her children, sixth-grader Jordan and 10th-grader Arienna, for Williams’ entire presentation, which she said was a great influence on the children who participated. She heard about the program when her husband got a notice about it in the mail before it began and has attended nearly every meeting.
“I think it’s a good idea for our son, because he’s getting up there, to be in a program to teach him how to be a man,” Angela Daniels said, referring to her son Jordan. “I think it’s a positive thing for boys in the community who might not have father figures, to be able to talk about things that maybe they might not be able to talk to their mothers about.”
For more information about BEAM, which rose out of a partnership between the church’s the Rev. Henry Simmons and Smith, visit stalbanscc.org or call 718-657-8282.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2011 Community News Group
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