Every single day media screens are darkened by violence and angry protests from coast to coast in this country, and all too often the faces we see in those disturbing scenes are young African-American men caught in the downward spiral of crime and punishment.
Violent crime is quite literally a health disparity in the African-American communities and something has to be done about it. So, Hampton University has embarked upon a multi-faceted Minority Men's Health Initiative (MMHI) designed to reduce the disproportionate number of African-American males who are suffering.
It is an initiative launched by University President Dr. William R. Harvey and it has fueled collaborative support from other institutions and agencies who share his passion for inspiring young men of color to rise above the statistics to carve productive and rewarding paths to success through education.
"At Hampton University we are offering solution-based programs to address the health disparities facing our young men," said Harvey. "The Minority Men's Health Initiative is making a real difference in the community."
One key component to the initiative (MMHI) is the Men's Violence Program (HU-MVP). It offers the Promise Program, a nine-month, intensive personal development program to help African-American males age 12-25. The program is designed to help them realize their potential as healthy, productive and self-sufficient members of their communities, and live their lives in ways that do not put them at risk of violence.
"As we look back on the first year of the Promise Program, we are clearly seeing many successes and know that there are many more to come," said Dr. Linda Malone-Colon, who leads the effort as director of the Men's Violence Prevention Program. "It has been so very rewarding to witness the positive transformation in the lives of these young men – away from violent tendencies and hopelessness and toward their greatest potential and promise. It has also been rewarding to witness the commitment of the honorable men who came each Tuesday after a long day of work to teach, guide, care about and inspire the potential and promise that we all know these young men have."
Hampton University reached out to Howard University to expand the reach of the Promise Program to an even wider population of young at-risk African-American men. These young men attend workshops and seminars focused on character development and coping skills, including, but not limited to, confidence, perseverance, ambition, discipline, compassion and responsibility.
The results to date are encouraging and the program is making a positive difference in the lives of the participants and their families.
The results of the MMHI will provide much needed data for lasting solutions.
Yuri R. Milligan