Inside the historic Deere-Wiman home in Moline, more than a dozen Quad Cities kids were being prepared for their future.
“If you don’t love yourself properly, you can’t love anyone else properly,” organizer Kermit Thomas tells a group of teens.
That message was drilled into about two dozen young men at the Minority Youth Forum.
Mentors spoke to students about things like education, career, and fitness.
They also tackled tougher issues, like mental health and gun violence.
Thomas says a fatal shooting in may was a wake up call.
“The young man that just died was 16 years old. My son is 16 years old. It could’ve been any one of our sons, so it’s just really important that we’ve got to get this information out there to these young men and let them know that this must stop,” he says.
The violence is not lost on the students.
“[I’m] worried, a little bit, about what might happen in the future,” says Benedict Mushimata, an incoming United Township High School freshman.
“You never know if I’m just going to go outside or something and get hurt or shot or something,” he says.
It’s why Antonio Carpenter is getting involved.
“A lot of people they kind of shy away getting into politics of that nature, but I like to jump into it and get more involved in the community and get more involved with the kids,” says the personal trainer.
Mentor Isaiah Williams says success comes from what happens after the forum.
“What I would like to see is actually some of the guys we have today doing things that make a difference out in the community, I’d like to see that out there,” says the 22-year-old.
And although the doors at this historic house will close at the end of the day, Thomas wants his students to know they will always have support.
“We’re getting all their phone numbers and emails and contacts, we give them ours, if they ever want to talk to us, our doors are always open,” says Thomas.
Shaping the future of the Quad Cities within the walls of its history.
This is the second forum that Thomas has hosted.
He hopes to have four a year with more students, mentors and partners like local schools.
To find out more about the forum and how to get involved, click here.