October 1, 2023


Your Partner in the Digital Era

Southwest Kansas nonprofit seeks to expand following-college programming to include additional little ones

Backyard garden City – Andru Jimenez and Josiah Murillo each have fond reminiscences of their journey to the Kansas Capitol making previously this calendar year.

In March, volunteers with Garden Metropolis-primarily based nonprofit business Real Men True Leaders took 13 boys to the cash to meet Gov. Laura Kelly and other condition lawmakers. They also saw a few sights. Jimenez, 14, and Murillo, 13, climbed up the Statehouse dome’s 296 steps to the cupola.

“It was scary,” Murillo said.

“I was so terrified that I’d attempt to choose a photograph and like, drop my cellphone,” Jimenez mentioned.

The nonprofit delivers soon after-university routines and leadership discovering possibilities for southwest Kansas boys starting in 5th quality, cost-free of demand to their family members. The curriculum for the method features hands-on lessons in lifetime competencies — together with participation in yearly hunter safety programs by means of the state Office of Wildlife and Parks — volunteerism, civic company and authorities.

Additionally, the grant and donation-funded corporation presents annually instructional journeys, like the March Topeka pay a visit to.

A current addition to the nonprofit’s repertoire is a podcast, where by company leaders interview a group of boys about the management techniques they’re discovering in the software. The podcast is posted weekly on the organization’s web site, RealMenRealLeaders.org.

As element of the boys’ Statehouse trip, a proclamation was go through in the Property of Reps, recognizing Authentic Guys Genuine Leaders for 10 decades “of support cultivating youthful guys into leaders by influencing beneficial determination making.”

The proclamation was sponsored by Reps. Monthly bill Clifford and Bob Lewis, the two Republicans from Backyard garden Metropolis.

Murillo stated the trip was amazing, but the ride home was a little bit awkward for his buddy, Jimenez.

“I received a small carsick,” Jimenez claimed.


Fifth quality matters

Jimenez will be a Garden City Higher University freshman, when Murillo will be an eighth grader at Horace Superior Middle School when classes get started this calendar year.

“I’ve informed a whole lot of youngsters to join (Authentic Guys Actual Leaders),” Murillo mentioned, “because they take you places.”

Both equally boys started with RMRL in 5th grade. About 60 boys are enrolled in pursuits for the duration of any offered school calendar year, in accordance to plan director Jonas Cruz. In full, about 200 boys currently take part, from 5th grade to substantial university seniors. Cruz stated previous year’s group logged far more than 1,800 several hours of volunteer time, carrying out several community assistance initiatives across Backyard garden City.

Fifth quality marks a transition period for pupils in USD 457, as Back garden City young children transfer on from elementary educational facilities to the district’s two 5th and 6th quality properties, Bernadine Sitts and Charles O. Stones Intermediate Centers. Bernadine Sitts counselor Jana Kennemer stated she’s found results among the 5th grade boys who enter the software.

“Essentially how it’s truly aided the young children is, as they get into the software, they get a feeling of belonging,” Kennemer mentioned. “They’re taught some lifestyle capabilities, and they conclusion up obtaining greater classroom behaviors.”

The plan mainly serves at-hazard college students who are entering one of the two intermediate facilities. All those pupils could be discovered as needing the method by officials at their elementary educational institutions, or families can talk to that their kid be viewed as for achievable placement. Kennemer stated she will arrive at out to fascinated families or people referred to her right before the start of college to get them an information packet to fill out. Whoever fills out the packet and returns it very first will get put in the system for the yr, Kennemer claimed.

“It’s form of very first-arrive, initially-provide. I really don’t market it to my whole populace,” Kennemer mentioned. “We have so quite a few little ones (who are intrigued), it’s presently hard ample to say no.”

Via a partnership with USD 457, software leaders have accessibility to pupil documents, this sort of as grades and disciplinary steps. Government director Reynaldo Mesa mentioned this is to support Cruz tackle regardless of what wants a college student might have, socially or emotionally, so they can be successful in university and in life. Any data shared by school district officials is kept among the district, program management and boys’ households.

Mesa claimed they selected to start with 5th grade boys because, in his earlier discussions with district officials, he uncovered that milestone was “critical” in a child’s advancement.

“That have to be a vital stage, when they transfer on and begin generating or likely down a path they imagine is the 1 they believe they need to acquire,” Mesa mentioned. “They’re extremely influenced” at that quality.

Mesa, a former metropolis mayor and state agent, claimed he was obtaining discussions with Latino company entrepreneurs in Backyard Metropolis 15 a long time back about how to address troubles these kinds of as substantial dropout and teen pregnancy prices among middle and superior school learners.

“We felt like we desired to do anything,” Mesa explained. “Oftentimes, these challenges and troubles are often remaining to the lecturers, regulation enforcement, parents, which it need to be, and other people in the local community. We can’t just sit back and proceed we have to be component of that answer.”

The to start with iteration of the program was named “Real Adult males True Heroes,” and Mesa stated it started with himself and other volunteers getting lunch with pupils at their faculties.

“Bernadine Sitts (Intermediate Middle) was the initially faculty,” Mesa said, “and we started out owning lunch with the boys there. Then we ended up heading to Charles O. Stones, and that is how it started off.”

Mesa and Cruz both want to broaden the nonprofit in many ways. They are trying to find avenues to create a software for 5th quality girls, and Mesa reported he wishes to produce associations with Kansas’ greater finding out institutions to generate pathways for students looking to keep on their schooling outside of superior university. Cruz mentioned he also demands much more volunteer assistance on subject journeys and neighborhood tasks.