Newswise — NEW YORK, MARCH 26, 2014 - A gala “Completion Ceremony” on Wednesday March 26th will mark a major milestone for young men in Health People’s Arches program, a key New York City Young Men’s Initiative especially designed to help young men on probation take new responsibility for themselves and their future.
The Completion Ceremony takes place at Health People at 552 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx from 5 to 7 pm. Funded through the Mayor’s Fund for the Advancement of New York City under the New York City Department of probation, Arches offers a six month intensive program of self-examination, where young men complete a series of workbooks under the guidance of adult mentors who, themselves, have overcome past imprisonment to rebuild their lives.
This powerful combination of paced self-examination with mentoring from men who really understand the problems the program participant’s grapple with has been shown to significantly decrease the prospects that they will not be involved in future crimes.
Health People, an innovative South Bronx peer education and mentoring program was chosen in the first round of funding to start its Arches initiative. Having already extensively trained adult peer educators from the South Bronx, Health People was able to rapidly recruit and train outstanding mentors who could meet the expectations for Arches.
Andre Jones, 25, says that for him, a key reason Arches works is “the mentors are just like me. Their story is my story. I learned from them where to start taking responsibility for your mistakes.” Andre is an honoree at the Completion Ceremony.
For Robert Edwards, 25, also an honoree at the Completion Ceremony, the Arches program “brought me a long way. The mentors are friendly and helpful. I used to have a bad attitude and not like to talk to people but that changed for me.”
“The people at Arches relate to you and your stories,” adds Ashad Washington, 18, another honoree. “That helps keep you out of trouble.” For the mentors, too, Arches fulfills a deep desire to “give back” to the community.
Kevin Holmes, 51, who was already an AIDS peer educator at Health People, immediately asked to become a mentor when the opportunity arose. “I suppose you could say I was a mentor in the past,” he observes,” but I was mentoring people to do the wrong things. You can’t be successful that way. Now, with these young men who, for whatever reason, got off track, I am guiding them to have a successful transition to the future. That is mentoring that’s satisfying because it can be successful.”Mr. Holmes provides special inspiration for the Arches participants having, earlier this year, become the recipient of Health People’s first Nelson Mandela award to honor outstanding and dedicated community work. About Health PeopleHealth People is a groundbreaking peer education, prevention and support organization in the South Bronx whose mission is to train and empower residents of communities overwhelmed by chronic disease and AIDS to become leaders and educators in effectively preventing ill health, hospitalization, and unnecessary death.
Established in 1990 as women’s AIDS prevention and support program, Health People has grown, using its peer-education model, to provide a full range of HIV/AIDS services for men, women and families. It also has conducted community asthma programs, New York’s first diabetes peer-educators program, and a community smoking cessation program. Health People’s Junior Peer program, Kids-Helping-Kids includes teens who are mentors for younger children with sick or missing parents.
For more information, please visit www.healthpeople.org.
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