JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — For young men like Jean Ribault High School senior Mykal Bolden, ‘Operation Save our Sons’ is more than just a school program. He calls it a brotherhood.
“I think that this program is really great," Bolden said. "It’s a good population of students without a father in their lives, my personal experience, It’s just been a lot of me and my mom. So we miss that masculine teaching that we may need.”
He, along with Jeffrey Francis, work as mentors with ‘Operation Save our Sons’. Francis is an aspiring medical engineer and says the program motivates others to dream big.
“When young black men see other black men in the roles that they aspire to be in, it’s going to motivate them to want to do the same thing. So I think it helps in that way," said Francis, also a senior at Jean Ribault.
According to organization leaders, over 2,500 kids’ lives have been affected over the last 10 years and at least 50 males have found employment through the program.
Here at the 10-year celebration, city council leaders, state representatives, the Superintendent for the Duval County Public School and JSO representatives were recognized for their support.
“It’s about creating nurturing spaces where African American males find a sense of self-worth and fulfillment," Bishop John Guns, with the St Paul Missionary Baptist Church, said.
With the violence plaguing the city of Jacksonville, leaders say the program helps keep young men in school, increasing graduation rates and in turn, decreasing violence.
“We’re getting them off the street and giving them a hope and a future so that’s what we want to accomplish for decades to come," said Alphonso Mcclendon, Chair board of directors of 'Operations Save our Sons'.