Thanks to the generosity of the Obama Foundation, My Brother’s Keeper, Project I Am joined the Freedom Summer initiative, implementing a safe summer program for 20 youth of color on the South and West sides of Chicago. The “Don’t Wait to Be Great 2.0” program is a life changing experience, led by subject experts and Jahkil Jackson, the program has a holistic approach to exposing this demographic to new experiences mixed with sports.
The Don’t Wait To Be Great 2.0 program was developed based on a needs assessment conducted with youth across the country. It was discovered that 90% of youth desire to help out their communities but unfortunately 80% of these youth do not feel confident in implementing a successful service initiative. Additionally, the lack of financial education makes it easy for youth to pick up bad financial habits. Statistics indicate that youth who never received proper education on finances end up as irresponsible adults, particularly on financial matters. Furthermore, research shows that participating in youth sports leads to immediate and long-term benefits for youth, their families and communities..
The program assists young athletes with preparing for middle school and high school sports, which proved to be an overwhelming success. The introduction of entrepreneurship, incorporation of community service and practicing team building, leadership and healthy living is paramount to the development of all youth. As a student athlete and social entrepreneur, Jahkil Jackson worked with adult professionals to share skills necessary to be successful at balancing athletics, academics and social life. The near-to-peer approach proved to be an innovative success, one that should be duplicated.