Rally at Covelli emphasizes positive attitude

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Speakers at the first My Brother’s Keeper rally Tuesday at the Covelli Centre for high school youth stressed the importance of a positive attitude.

One of the speakers, Carlos Christian, who was selling drugs at age 13 before turning his life around, told the students the “formula” to changing their lives is to have a “victory mindset.”

Christian said of all the things that can go against someone, the one thing they can control is their mind and how they think. If they think positively, they can usually find a way to take advantage of just about any circumstance.

“One thing that is not going against me is my mind,” Christian said.

The rally, known as the MBK Rising Conference, is based on an initiative by former President Barack Obama to mentor young men in urban areas and provide positive examples for them.

Students from grades 8 through 12 in Youngstown, Warren, Liberty and other districts attended.

Besides hearing from speakers, attendees also learned how to manage money, received instruction in how to promote positive self esteem and received information on how to apply for college or trade school.

The local conference was organized by the city of Youngstown’s Community Initiative To Reduce Violence program. It is the first year the conference has been held in Youngstown.

Guy Burney, CIRV coordinator, said it took about three months of planning to bring the event together.

A main theme among speakers was for attendees to have a positive attitude and to also not let bad circumstances, even if they are self-inflicted, define them.

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown told the attendees he wanted them to learn and observe. He said they are the future leaders of the community and nation and that they should never let anyone tell them they cannot make a difference.

“Don’t let anyone tell you there’s not opportunities for you,” Brown said.

Kyle Strickland, head of My Brother’s Keeper Ohio, said that the narrative has to change in urban communities, and that starts with the students who were attending Tuesday.

“For far too long, people have counted communities out, and this is unacceptable,” Strickland said.

Jeremy Batchelor, principal of East High School, said the event was perfect for his students because it allowed them to mix with people of similar backgrounds from different communities.

Batchelor said one thing he has been talking about with his students all year is having a positive mindset, so he was glad that was emphasized Tuesday.

“We have to have our own story, our own narrative,” Batchelor said.

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