Imagine this: You come from a single-parent home. You live with your mother; she has multiple graduate degrees from highly accredited state universities. She could work in the corporate world and make six figures but because of her own upbringing, she chooses to work in professions whereby the work is heavy and draining, but the pay is meek. She has taught and been a social worker, among other things, but in all she has done, ensuring that those she serves receive the utmost care is always her priority.
You’ve happily gone without, so your mother can give to those who have less. You’re okay with that because you know that what she gives to others is pennies on the dollar compared to what she gives your household in order to ensure your basic needs are met more often than not. The problem is there are times when not is a reality where your needs are concerned and although you remain clothed, housed, and fed, you know the grim reality of having utilities cut off, eating meals that don’t really make sense, and what it is to hear your mother talking about robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Simply put, you know hard times.
When things are roughest at home, you find solace at school. You’re a top-performing student and a few teachers don’t know what you sometimes go home to, but they see potential in you. They recommend you to programs and other opportunities that afford you breaks from the lifestyle that your mother didn’t mean to, but made yours. You’re raised to believe that a quality education and what you do with it is your way out, and you believe that to be true.
Imagine all of the above is your life minus the educated mother, hope that an education is your way out, caring educators around you, etc. Your mother and father are absent for one reason or another and your caregiver sees you as a check/isn’t well-equipped to care for you. Generational cycles of poverty and despair are all you know. No one sees enough potential in you to encourage you in the ways you deserve and need.
The reality is that former scenario is the reality for far too many children in America. Regardless, Donald Trump is looking to make funding and other cuts anywhere he is able. Sadly, anyone who comes from a marginalized, underrepresented, and/or under-served group will tell you that programs that feed, positively engage, and/or otherwise work with youth in constructive and productive outlets, are priceless.
Moreover, any cuts to these types of programs are only deepening the school to prison pipeline and other negative cycles that are perpetuated in many communities. For this reason, news that NBA superstar, LeBron James is looking to give back via the opening of a school for at-risk youth is the epitome of putting your money where your mouth is, giving back to the community, and paying it forward.
LeBron, also affectionately known as King James and LBJ, among other nicknames, knows what it is to grow-up in less than ideal circumstances. He was raised by his mother, Gloria, and relied on the help of others to help ensure his needs were met.
King James is known for having collaborated with the University of Akron to ensure a full ride for youth in his program. He regularly gives back to Cleveland and Akron area children so that they will have Christmas gifts and takes pride in other benevolent acts.
Now, in what is perhaps his biggest show of commitment and dedication to youth, James has announced that he is opening a school for children who come from backgrounds like the one all too familiar to him, and worse. About his school, James says:
‘This school is so important to me because our vision is to create a place for the kids in Akron who need it most — those that could fall through the cracks if we don’t do something.We’ve learned over the years what works and what motivates them, and now we can bring all of that together in one place along with the right resources and experts. If we get to them earl y enough, we can hopefully keep them on the right track to a bigger and brighter future for themselves and their families.’
The school will be run under the auspices of James’ foundation and is set to open in the fall of 2018. Initially, its focus will be students in third and fourth grades, but by 2022 there are plans to expand to those in first through eighth grades.
Details are still being finalized, but by all accounts, it’s all systems go for James’ latest heartfelt attempt to give more to the world than he has taken from it.
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