- Posted July 19, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
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Milne Inspiration Center: The Place Where Youth are Empowered, Inspired, & Cultivated
When you think of youth based programs you think of YMCA, Black Girls Rock camps, Boys and Girls Clubs, but I was introduced to one in New Orleans called “The Milne Inspiration Center”. The purpose of the Milne Inspiration Center is to provide a safe space that cultivates the voice, vision and development of young leaders to reach their purpose filled futures. Since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has been rebuilding, rebirthing, and redeveloping to go back to the proud, strong, and active community that they are known for. But in the midst of rebuilding, we must not forget about our youth who are engaging, learning, and cultivating a mindset that will define not only their direction, but their future. After accessing the situation and realizing the importance of creating a space for our youth Le’Kedra Robertson decided on bringing forth the Milne Inspiration Center.
She has partnered with great individuals to help create another home for the children of New Orleans in order to provide resources, networking opportunities, and structured lessons that will guarantee a positive journey throughout life. One of the partners of this great center is Actor/Activist/Educator Lamman Rucker, best known for his roles in Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married? & “Why Did I Get Married Too?” and “Meet The Brown”. I had the pleasure of speaking with both Le’Kedra Robertson and Lamman Rucker after the 2nd Annual Mic Amped Youth Leadership Summit at Dillard University.
What was the inspiration of the Milne Inspiration Center?
L’Kedra Robertson: The Milne Inspiration Center is a place that nurtures, educates, and elevates our youth into positive and productive citizens. We, also, seeks to engage youth and community voice and vision in the redevelopment of the former Milne Boys home to develop it as a global leadership and innovative social entrepreneurship live and learn center. After Hurricane Katrina, much of New Orleans was damaged and many individuals were displaced leaving families and children without much to do. So the Milne Inspiration Center, was birthed.
Why did you choose Arts and Culture to be the key elements of your program?
Lamman Rucker: Arts and Culture are a universal language and platform that connects us all. Every culture uses it to communicate! It’s the spark necessary to reignite purpose in our children. They need to be motivated to make and embrace positive and educated decisions. The arts have always been at the forefront of evolution when it comes to the community and change. Also I would commend Le’Kedra for her commitment and everything she is doing with this movement for our youth. She is a True Change Agent!
The Milne Inspiration Center is a youth -based project, what resources and/or opportunities do you provide?
Le”Kedra Robertson: The age groups we are working with are 13 – 18. We are cultivating and creating leaders so that they can reach back and help the younger children. We give them the tools to be examples for those following in their footsteps by giving offering a Summer Leadership Institute, Gospel In Africa and Adolescents Making Positive and Educated Decisions (AMPED!). Through these programs we concentrate on the 5 Pathways of Engagement. We focus on the areas of:
Transformative Education: Provide life skills training and youth leadership development as well as introduce innovative education to expand and deepen youth knowledge through intergenerational, peer to peer cross-community and international collaborations.
Global/Culture Connection: Use varied mediums of arts and cultural expression to explore the importance of maintaining global communities, particularly focused on the Haitian and African Diaspora, via e-curriculum plus communication with and travel to youth in Haiti and Africa.
Entrepreneurship/Job Training: Provide traditional and innovative skills-based training for employment, vocational and entrepreneurial career opportunities as well as expand opportunities for internships and mentorships that motivate youth to pursue careers and build wealth that remains in and benefits their communities.
Health & Wellness: Increase knowledge and skills that help youth improve physical, behavioral, mental, spiritual, financial and sexual health. Strategies include peer-to-peer consensus building with mentorship and coaching from elders. Additionally, we focus our environmental connection and strategies to improve environmental health.
Civil Engagement: Develop advocates that deepen the quality of involvement and impact young people have on issues of concern and facilitate youth development into leaders who promote civic participation, grass roots community organizing and influence on the political landscape of the global community.
We also offer programs during the school such as After-School programs, building business initiative, and Vietnamese entrepreneur projects. We also give them T-Shirts and Keys to serve as reminders of their duty and commitment to growth.
What is your involvement in this program?
Lamman Rucker: Let me say that I am excited to see this program grow, this is Le’Kedra second year and the impact and growth is amazing. I am involved by just being myself, I am A Member of the community, Being A Father-figure, A Mentor, An Artist, I am here to simply fill in the gaps by supporting, empowering, and educating these children. People need to understand that we need to be a part of the solution, a part of the movement to contribute more positivity to our youth. I am lending my likeness, name and support to what Le’Kedra is doing because it’s so needed in our community.
Now I know you are doing the Youth Summit in Louisiana, do you travel or recruit youth from other cities, or is this a Louisiana based project?
Le’Kedra Robertson: This is an avenue for the students of New Orleans to network with people, youth in other cities. Helping them expand their network. I travel with my consulting business, and I am looking to partner or do some virtual classes to share ideas and resources to further help our children.
What was your message at the Youth Summit?
Lamman Rucker: I spoke on many different things. I reminded them that they are brilliant, they are destined for great things! I encouraged them to be “Master of your own Fate. Opportunity. God and being Grateful. Unstoppable. Love.” (Mogul). I spoke on leadership and being leaders. I let them know that they are going to do profound things! I also stressed, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it and the importance of doing it together”!
Why is this program something you chose to join or become associated with?
Lamman Rucker: This program is an extension of who I am and what I do under my own foundation “Black Gents of Hollywood”. The foundation is an African-American male ensemble theater company. Our focus is community empowerment through the arts and the projection of positive Black male images. It’s all about being positive models of black image, educating, encouraging through the arts. Continuing to uplift and providing outreach to our youth which Le’Kedra is doing an excellent with and I am proud to lend my hand to assist.
What would you tell someone who is skeptical of supporting this program and any program that supports our youth?
Lamman Rucker: I don’t know why anyone would be skeptical, but it’s definitely a great investment for our youth. If it was not for programs like this, when I was younger, I would not be who I am and where I am today. These programs engage our children to share and develop interest and talents, meet new people, and cultivate skills that were hidden. This is a great opportunity! Young people, if you are not doing anything, I would recommend you get involved.
How can people join and/or support your program:
Le’Kedra Robertson: We are currently looking for Volunteers, Mentors, and Sponsors. Visit our page at The Milne Inspiration Center: http://www.themicamped.org/home-page-2/
You can contact Lamman and Le’Kedra at:
Lamman Rucker: http://www.theblackgents.org/
Le’Kedra Robertson: http://www.themicamped.org/home-page-2/
You can learn more about the writer at www.penlegacy.com
Photos courtesy of the PR division of Pull Corp Media: http://www.pullcorp.com/