By Donald Barnes
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Calvin Colbert has been working with Detroit youth for 23 years.
In 1991, he founded Detroit Impact, a youth leadership program designed for young people ages 6-17. The program, which began as an outreach through the Compassionate Ministry of the Church of Nazareth, has classes that range from video game design to improving fundamental school skills.
“One of the programs is our media arts program, we instruct the young people on the behind the scenes work of video production,” Colbert, executive director of Detroit Impact, told the Michigan Citizen. “They learn to work the lighting, audio and cameras. It gives them the skill sets they can use to further themselves in that industry.” Other programs include mentoring.
On Oct. 18, Colbert held a special meeting for Detroit Impact mentees, who participated last month in the 2013 Steve Harvey Mentoring Program, to reflect on their experiences.Detroit Impact sponsored 20 of 100 young men who participated in the three-day weekend program.
Colbert, who matriculated through Detroit Public Schools, graduating from Pershing High School, knows first hand the challenges many teen males face.
He said the day of reflection was necessary. “It gives the young men the opportunity to share what they’ve learned so far before moving forward,” he said. “We know it was a fast-paced weekend; a lot of things went on, but we want to know what actually impacted them that they are applying to their lives today.”
Although the boys weren’t available for direct comment during the special session, one teen shared his experience since attending the weekend program during group discussion.
He described recent exchanges between him and his absentee father as a “healing.” The Detroit Impact mentee said the conversations he and his father had over that weekend encouraged him to heal and forgive his father.
One parent shared an observation of her son’s change since that weekend.
Kasundra Clanton, parent of Desmond Clanton, said she’s seen an improvement in her son.
“When I call or ask him to do something he responds a bit quicker, he talks to me more and that’s good because getting him to speak to me about certain things was always very hard,” Clanton said. “Certain things they were teaching them such as opening the doors and pumping the gas, he does with no problem now. His overall attitude has changed, it hasn’t been a great difference but it has some change.”
Clanton says her son wasn’t involved with Detroit Impact before the Steve Harvey Mentoring program, but she looks for Detroit Impact to be the next step in her child’s life.
“Going from Steve Harvey over to Detroit Impact, I’m hoping and expecting for more changes to come,” Clanton said. “We have no good male figures in the family, so somebody that can give him some positive outlook would be great to gain.”
For more information on Detroit Impact, call 313.272.0004