MACON, Ga. — Through a partnership with Mercer's Center for Collaborative Journalism, Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Telegraph, we will seek out many voices over the next year and ask the question: What is the cost of youth violence? The project is named Peacing Together.
When it comes to working with our youth, June O’Neal is on the front line helping some of the most at-risk students find the guidance and support they need with the help of a mentor.
“I think a lot of the children live at the corner of desperate and hopeless,” said O’Neal.
She’s the executive director of the Mentors Project. It’s a program in Bibb County Schools that matches mentors with some middle and high school students who need a little extra guidance and support.
She believes every child needs a personal cheerleader in life, but some Central Georgia youth don’t have that.
“A teen mom who got beat up for trying to go back to school. A young man with a parent who would take all of his summer earnings and spend it in a week. There are a million things that flash through my head,” said O’Neal.
Together, June and her team of mentors are turning that around.
“In four hours a month, minimum, you can make a lifelong difference in the life of a child. You can take them to a movie, to a football game, hang out with them. It doesn’t have to be rocket science, it’s as simple as sharing a hot dog,” she said.
What sounds simple doesn’t always come easy, but June says she’ll never give up.
“We just try to be there for the children. We’re not always the solution. Every child we work with doesn’t always stay in school even though we pray that they will, but we just try to be there. We try to be a sounding board and a cheerleader,” said O’Neal.
Right now, they are desperately in need of mentors – particularly males – because there are 50 young men on the waiting list for someone to take them under their wing. If you are interested and need more information, please click here.
MORE PEACING TOGETHER PROFILES
We can't do this on our own, we need your help too. We'd like to invite you to take a brief survey on your thoughts on youth violence in your community.
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