Howard Griffith, two-time Super Bowl champion, shared lessons and advice with Altgeld Gardens youth ages 8-18 from area schools including CICS Larry Hawkins, CICS Lloyd Bond, Carver, DuBois, Aldridge, and Whitney Young.
On Saturday, February 9, 170 young men gathered in the gymnasium of CICS Larry Hawkins to learn valuable lessons about the value of self-worth, personal accountability, and having a “no excuses” attitude. The hearty “Brothers Breaking Bread” breakfast was prepared and served by staff of the 7-12th grade college preparatory high school in Chicago’s Altgeld Gardens neighborhood.
Chicago native and two-time NFL Super Bowl champion Howard Griffith, who now provides commentary and analysis on ESPN Radio and the Big Ten Network, was an inspiring guest speaker. He shared a story that particularly resonated with students in the room, saying that when he was a college athlete at University of Illinois, he was revved up for a big game against Iowa, feeling prideful because his name was being used in commercials for the televised event. When the game began, he was bumped by a member of the opposing team and instead of checking his frustration, he punched the player and was ejected from the game. Not only that, he wasn’t able to start in the next few games and he had so many people counting on him that he let down, and he regretted his actions.
In sharing this reflection, Mr. Griffith reminded the young men that they have to be accountable for their actions, that every action has its consequences, and that making excuses just isn’t worth it when it comes to one’s character. He also turned to the adults in the room, many of whom are parents and guardians, and reminded them of their obligation to show their children they have self-worth. “Otherwise, they will turn to the streets to find that self-worth,” he warned.
Campus leaders were encouraged by the high turnout for the special event. “Altgeld Gardens needs a place where young men can come and receive a quality education and unite as a community, because it takes a village to raise a child. There has been an amazing interest from the community in this breakfast alone – people are already asking if we will make them a regularly occurring event,” shares Baptiste Dixon, co-founder of the CICS Larry Hawkins chapter of Mentor boyz II MEN (MB2M) Youth Program, which collaborates with the Surviving Trials Removing Obstacles Noticing Gifts (S.T.R.O.N.G.) program at the campus.
Mr. Dixon’s impressive group of students weren’t shy in sharing their creed, and in a touching ceremony, they received lapel pins to commemorate the level they had reached within the mentoring program.
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