The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (CRCC) took another positive stance in combating violence, oppression, and bullying and sexual violence on Aug. 6 at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights.
In sponsoring their ‘Boys Taking Action’ symposium, CRCC recruited Black males ages 8-18 and placed them in a series of forums, which included yoga, drumming, mask making, addressing social media and dialogue that also included their parents.
More than 50 boys participated at the event, which was attended by a broad range of community leaders that included the Call & Post, County Persecutor Office, speakers Ethel Middlebrook, Alex Leslie, David Frattare, Honey Bell-Bey and Angela Ladson, who lost tow of her sons to violence.
CRCC staff, volunteers and other community organizations all joined in, contributing their valuable time and resources to benefit the young men.
It was an eye opening experience to witness high school age males during the social media component describe the content and potential illegal activity that occur when they simply use their cell phone devices.
They all came to the event with guarded apprehension, but each appeared to leave with a concept they can do a better job of improving their character and making a difference in their lives and that of others.
While they clearly enjoyed their free colorful T-shirt, early morning snack and mid afternoon lunch, they provided a unique perspective of what life was like for them, hailing from challenging neighborhoods.
Two men in one discussion panel shared their experience of going to prison with hope the young men will not have to experience that fate.
The giggly 8-10 year olds, at a prime point of influence from members of their community, television, social media and music, took it all in identifying what they would want to be like when they grow up, and also what they would not like to be like.
“We recognize that in order to stop violence in our communities we must join forces with youth, leaders and community partners who are seeking solutions, as we advocate for the next generation,” stated Sondra Miller, president and CEO of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.
‘Boys Taking Action’ was a step in the right direction and if just for a day and perhaps even longer, 50 Black males were better because of it, and their families, community and schools will be the beneficiaries of it.