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Young men mentor younger kids

While Central Middle School student Isaae Vicks reads a Dr. Seuss book to enthralled Whittier Elementary students Dylan Heiderich and Nathaniel Crowley, coaches Kenneth Stallworth and De'Andre Swanson keep a close eye on Vicks and other students in the Young Men in Action program. The coaches are observing how the middle-school students mentor the first- and second-graders, demonstrating to them how "cool" it is to be able to read. 

The coaches, founders of and mentors for the Young Men in Action program at Central Middle School, were honored this year as two of approximately 70 outstanding Oklahoma mentors for their innovative program during the annual Oklahoma Mentor Day in Oklahoma City.

"We focus on the six pillars of character," Stallworth said: trustworthiness, fairness, caring, citizenship, respect and responsibility. Starting with 15 to 20 boys two years ago, now about 50 Central Middle School boys met every other Thursday with the two coaches, volunteering for community service activities and projects like reading to the Whittier students. 

The entire program takes work for both the coaches and students, so why was the program started and what does it accomplish? 

Central Middle School Principal Blake Thomas explained why he nominated the coaches as Oklahoma outstanding mentors. 

"Mr. Swanson and Mr. Stallworth have a passion for helping students succeed," Thomas said. "They saw a need for young men to grow into responsible, caring adults. They started Young Men in Action to help these students do better academically, socially and athletically."

The Lawton Constitution

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