More than 100 young men from Tulsa are getting a lesson in manhood at the Fourth Annual Manhood Summit. The event is geared toward giving young boys life and professional skills.
All of the participants are in the 8th grade, but the mentors come from all over.
The boys participated in a long list of activities throughout the day, including learning how to tie a tie, managing money and even how to operate tools.
Organizers said many of the boys come from single-parent households and have little or no male influence.
They hope events like this will a spark that could potentially lead these kids down a path of success.
"It actually feels pretty good to know that they care," said 8th grader Malachi Knight. "Because most people would just say 'oh well, let them do what they do.' But you guys actually care and want us to do good."
The summit is sponsored by the MVP Foundation who said the mission of the summit is to inform, inspires, and empower 8th grade Black males from Monroe Demonstration Academy, McLain 8th Center, and KIPP Charter School that come from single-mom households.
Over 70 professionals around Tulsa are sharing what they know - how to tie a tie, use tools, interact with police and show respect.
"It's about respecting yourself and understanding a basic foundation of manhood. In this society we start with a handshake,” said organizer Damario Solomon-Simmons.
Through an interactive, application-based approach, Manhood 101 Summit goes beyond academic instruction and focuses on relevant and practical life skills critical to success in our society.
The male mentoring relationship is a first for many of the kids.
Attorney Solomon-Simmons and his wife developed the program.
"The boys in my program, like me, come from single-mom households and lacking the presence of a strong, positive man in their homes, do not learn enough of the basic fundamentals of manhood," said Solomon-Simmons.
Just one hour a week could be enough to change a life.
Solomon-Simmons hopes having professionals and celebrities, like pro- wrestler Titus O'Neil, shows circumstances don't have to dictate how far you go.
"My mother was raped at a very young age and had me at 12 year old, and against the wishes of other people we bounced from house to house, family member to family member, even homeless at certain points," O’Neil said.
O'Neil said many people helped him along the way, so it's his mission to help someone else.
"My message, consistently, no matter who I'm talking to is to have character. When you have character, it takes you places that talent will never get you to," he said.
In addition to O'Neil, News On 6 sports anchor Harold Kuntz is one of the mentors at the fourth annual Manhood Summit. Other mentors include Etan Thomas, Phil Armstrong, David Miller and Dr. Boyce Watkins.
The group will be attending the Thunder game Thursday evening and will have the opportunity to meet some of the players.