KIDZ CULTURE CONNECTION
Assisting young people, especially disadvantaged minority students, fulfill many of their cultural and educational needs has long been a dream of the Rootz Foundation’s three founding members, a businessman, a journalist and an educator. Therefore, when we were asked by a Community Liaison Officer at the Northwest Regional Library in Pompano Beach, to provide a culturally based youth intervention program aimed at building the self-esteem and self-image of young minority children who frequented the after-school program at the Broward County facility, we immediately jumped at the opportunity to become mentors.
Accordingly, Talawah Roots in the person of Priest Douglas Smith, and Rootz Magazine in the person of Jabulani Tafari, combined their talents and resources with that of Special Education teacher Michele Crooks, to make this dream of a children’s outreach program a reality. Thus was born a culturally based youth intervention program for youngsters that we fondly called the “Kidz Culture Connection.”
Tell The Children The TruthBob Marley
The free youth outreach program started at the Pompano branch library every other Saturday afternoon between 2.00 pm and 3.30 pm and was geared for youngsters between the ages of six and fourteen. The purpose of the Kidz Culture Connection was to increase the self-motivation and improve the self-esteem and self-image of the youngsters in the community by teaching them Life Lessons that they would not learn in regular school.
The students were predominantly African-American and/or African-American with Caribbean heritage (Haitian, Bahamian, Jamaican, Trinidadian, etc). The young students themselves were obviously very appreciative, so too were the staff of the branch library, who expressed amazement at what we did without any real budget, and were overjoyed at the overwhelmingly positive response from the children attending the sessions.
Each Saturday session with between 12 to 25 children in attendance, was conducted in person by Priest Douglas Smith, Jabulani Tafari and Michele Crooks, along with various guest teachers/instructors brought in from time to time. Each week’s session included three areas of main emphasis: 1. Culture, 2. Education and 3. Physical Exercise, with healthy snacks and liquid refreshments to round things off every week.
The need for a better way to provide this and other similar services, gave rise to the decision to formalize the ongoing collaboration between (Talawah) Roots and Rootz (Magazine) and thus the Non-profit organization Rootz Foundation Inc. was born.
Today, the Rootz Foundation Inc.'s Youth Outreach & Embrace program entitled The Kidz Culture Connection, is an interactive and extremely adaptable module that may be implemented in a variety of ways in virtually all situations. At the same time, our ability to focus intently on our historical roots and culture, especially with respect to African-American and Afro-Caribbean youth, is unique to the Kidz Culture Connection program.
The youth outreach activities are conducted regularly throughout the year, presently in two underserved areas of Broward: the Sistrunk community in northwest Fort Lauderdale and a similar community in Pompano Beach in northeastern Broward County.
The Kidz Culture Connection Youth Outreach and Embrace program is an endeavor to preempt the adverse social conditions that breed dysfunctional mentalities and juvenile delinquency. Our culturally based youth intervention program is aimed at 1st Grade to 8th Grade-aged minority students, and is expected to help reduce both the rate and number of African-American students dropping out of high school and engaging in criminal conduct.
Socially, our aim as Mentors and Community Guidance Counselors, is to enhance the cultural sensibilities and the social skills of our targeted clients, at-risk minority youth, and thereby improve their academic abilities and achievements.