Monday, February 6, 2012

February 2012: Champion for Youth

Congratulations to Rev. Malachi Walker for being chosen as the Champion for Youth for this month! Rev. Walker is the Executive Director of Young Men, Inc. Youth Ministry. Read below to find out what makes this man such a inspiration and a true Champion of Youth.

What is your profession or vocation?   I am a retired Indianapolis Firefighter.  I served on the department for 28.5 years, as well as an ordained minister within the Church of God Anderson where I am Associate Pastor of Great Commission Church of God.  I am also the Executive Director and founder of Young Men, Inc. Youth Ministry – a male empowerment ministry for at-risk males, ages 8 – 16.

How are you an Everyday Champion for Youth?   I believe that I am an everyday champion for youth because it has been one of the things that I live for throughout my life. I started organizing teen clubs and field trips to King’s Island for youth at age 16. Being from the Twin Hills Housing Community, we had to quickly learn how to ban together as youth and find positive things to do.  I guess that’s where my leadership and work with youth was cultivated.   I work with them every day in one capacity or another - whether it be by mentoring youth, going to a school to see about one of them who is in trouble, having a kind word to say to one who has lost their way or lost hope, or packing them into a 15-passenger van to see a Pacers game, experience the recent 2012 Super bowl Experience, or taking them to see firsthand the impact homicide has on the lives of black males. I truly feel that it is a calling from God to work with them and I am humbled that He has chosen me to be the vehicle of change and hope for Black males.

What impact do you hope to make on youth?   I hope to empower them to make good decisions and choices in life; instill in them the importance of education and what it means to be a leader in all areas of life mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I also hope to teach them how to give back to their community in the form of volunteering and community service so that they leave a lasting impact in the City of Indianapolis or whatever communities they eventually live in.  I feel this will help them to realize how fortunate they have been to have people who care about them and that they in turn will also be encouraged to give back and help others as they grow from boys to men.

What’s one thing that you wish an adult had told you when you were a young person?   I wish that an adult had really instilled in me and helped me to believe that “you can do anything that you want to do, as long as you work hard at it and put your mind to it.”   I also wish that they had told me that "life was a gift and the only things that matters as how you use that gift because we are not here on earth just to take up space; your life has meaning and purpose. It’s up to you to find it and use it to help not just yourself but others."

What do you want to do next to support youth?   I really want to try to find collaborative ways to work with other organizations and show them how to find jobs,   save money, and impact their communities.  I also hope to be able to build a full-fledged mentoring program for Young Men, Inc.

Do you work directly with youth?  Yes, I work directly with youth and have been doing so since I was a youth myself.  I now work directly with youth – mostly African American males – through Young Men, Inc.  Every summer I work with 80 - 100 African American males through the Young Men, Inc. 10-week summer empowerment camp. We meet on Tuesdays, Thursdays, as well as some weekends and other days to keep them off the street, show them how to make good decisions and choices, and how to respect themselves and others.  We have a military style of discipline and a points system for rewards that allows participants to earn a trip to Kings Island, college tour, and have an awards and recogntion banquet at the end of the 10-week program. We then try to match participants with mentors that follow them throughout the rest of the year.  However, due to a limited staff and funding, we are currently unable to match all participants.

What percentage of your time is spent working directly with youth or families?  At least 50%

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