by John Kay
(Plain Press, June 2017) In America, our society loves a good success story…the ones that contain second and third chances for any individual. But when it comes to incarceration, it seems that a curtain of doubt and disbelief is held up for those same opportunities. In 2014, a program, Men Who Wish to Change, was started by two brothers, Rawn and Jamal Nash, who were incarcerated but wanted to change the trajectory of individuals, whom most have given up on. Men Who Wish to Change was created to generate support and services for incarcerated youth and to overcome the transition that has hampered so many.
Men Who Wish to Change presented their first Teen Re-Entry Youth Summit on May 20th at the Cudell Recreation Center. This program, in its early stages, tackles the various challenges of re-entry by addressing the many levels of this issue.
Michael J. Houser, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff for Cuyahoga County, coordinated the event with a unique lineup of speakers that focused on policy changes needed in regard to current criminal records, and how the community addresses re-entry on a daily basis.
With young teenagers and children in attendance, Mickey “The Spirit” Bey of Mayweather Promotions spoke of overcoming obstacles and barriers of everyday life. (In 2014, Bey became the IBF lightweight world champion by outlasting Miguel Vasquez in 12 rounds.) “It’s not about sports, it’s about making the right decisions. You go left or you go right—that’s whether you’re a painter, a singer, whether you want to be a doctor…it’s always going to be challenging,” said Bey.
Surrounded by a group of girls and boys outside the recreational center, Bey encouraged them to be more intentional with their dreams and aspirations. He spoke of his incarceration and how it was a defining snapshot in his life.
“Now, when you kids are younger, you got to know what you want to do,” urged Bey. “You have to stay on that straight path, be focused…sometimes you got to know how to turn that negative energy into positive energy.”