Mentoring program for boys expanding
by Chris Norwood
TALLADEGA — A mentoring program that has worked with children living in Talladega’s public housing projects for more than a decade is expanding its mission, according to Pastor Barbara Embry.

Men Inspiring Real Reflections of Respected Image will now be made available to boys in the city of Talladega and Talladega County juvenile probation program, Embry explained. She said she and husband Bobby Embry had met with Talladega County Circuit Judge Julian King, District Judge Ryan Rumsey, Talladega Mayor Larry Barton, probation officers Sherry Brown and Sedrick “Bo” Wilson, recent MIRROR Image graduate Monte Abner and Talladega High School Principal Darren Anglin last week to discuss the new partnership.

“Abner presented The Man Up program’s core values and curriculum to the group then there was a time slotted for Q&A. The consensus of the group was to proceed with the program, which will start on next Wednesday, January 9th with an application and intake process,” Embry said in a press release.

MIRROR Image is “a mentoring outreach program designed to develop, equip, empower, and prepare our young men to be successful male adult leaders who will serve as a reflection of leadership, able to compete and function in a diverse and global society. MIRROR Image is designed to provide mentoring and develop structure in the lives of males by readily presenting ‘mirrors’(positive male adults) that reflect what each male should be,” the release says. “Abner and Tim Embry felt that older males would be remiss to stand by and watch the demise of our young men because of a lack of proper leadership and positive male role-models. Over ten years ago the program was structured to present lessons of maturity. The program sought to intervene before the internal conflict of rebellion and violence consumes our young men, and they become products of institutionalized confinement.”

Embry said she “believes that making right decisions, and the commitment to follow what adults present as positive proven examples, can deter some of the negative and volatile acts we have witnessed from our younger generation.” She stated that parents must be accountable and must play an active role consistently in the lives of their children. The program will train and prepare the older men (mentors) to train the younger men (mentees) to walk and choose the path that Robert Frost says is often ‘less traveled.’ The road ‘less traveled’ is the road that leads to making right decisions that will ultimately cause them to become better citizens and productive members of their communities.

The release goes on to say, “Initially, the program functioned primarily as a Saturday breakfast meeting (“Face 2 Face”). Later during that year, the program began one-on-one mentorship –lending its services to the juvenile court of Clay County and Talladega County. During the summer of 2003, the mentoring program began its Image League basketball program, which was a desired activity of former executive director of the Talladega Housing Authority, Mac Heaton. Embry said Heaton was interested in a summer program for the youth and the Summer Basketball League was the answer to that request. Paul Scott heads that segment of MIRROR Image and today, both Image League and “Face 2 Face” have served over 200 young men from the Talladega and surrounding communities. Choices Teen Conference just celebrated its eleventh year as a significant part of the mentoring program. The teens spend a week away from familiar surrounding with trained counselors and educators that also give the needed attention to steer the youth into making the right decisions and knowing the repercussions from decisions they make. Barbara Embry says that words like responsibility, commitment, consistence, should be active words in the life of young people.

For those involved in the juvenile probation ‘Man Up’ program, there will be no out of town travel, but there will be an overnight lock-in. There will be more parental involvement as well.

The program is open to boys between the ages of 7 and 18. Parents and child must complete an interview and application process, and show a need for mentorship. The child must currently either be enrolled in school or a GED program. The new, “Man Up” program will require a court referral for all but five participants per quarter, who may be referred by their parents.

Those interested in becoming mentors must complete an application and interview process and attend training sessions. Applications may be obtained at Christ Deliverance Christian Center on Battle Street or by calling 256-362-1975 or by emailing info@christdeliverance.org.

Contact Chris Norwood at cnorwood@dailyhome.com.

© 2013