At-risk youth program continues helping students

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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, May 5, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- For most kids, five days of school a week is more than enough. But these kids have added another school day to their week, and they say it's giving them a better future.

"On the weekends, this is the place to come," said Lawrence Williams, an eighth grade student. "You could have fun -- [there is] tutoring, you've got people [and] it keeps you out of trouble."

Williams is talking about the Project BBUILD program.

"That's the acronym B.B.U.I.L.D. Boule Brothers Uplifting, Influencing, Leading and Developing," explained Dr. Ronald Brown Sr., Project BBUILD chairman of social action.

Nine years ago, a fraternity started the program after hearing about one particular statistic.

"There were more young black males attending prison than were attending colleges," Brown said.

So now they give up every Saturday to mentor and tutor some lucky Richmond County kids, and it's changing lives.

"I've been doing things now that I probably wouldn't have done if I hadn't been to this program," said Taylor Charles, seventh grade Project BBUILD student.

"Instead of sleeping, I'm at a program that's building a future for myself," said Bobby Thomas, eighth grade Project BBUILD student.

"I'm gonna miss it," Williams said.

Williams is one of Sunday's graduates -- raised by his grandparents, he's been part of the program through his entire middle school career.

"If I wasn't in the program, I'd probably would be outside, hanging with the wrong crowd, [dealing with] peer pressure. Probably be in a YDC, youth development -- just in trouble," he said.

He says the program became a family for him.

"Some black youth like me don't have father figures in their life," he said. "But when you come here, this is your father figure, your mentor, your helper, your teacher -- it's a whole bond of males in the group."

Williams just has one message for other kids who may be struggling.

"If you want to get out of trouble, just come to Project BBUILD."

Nine eight grade students graduated today, but their journey doesn't end there. Now, they'll be matched to mentor other students who are still in the program.

African-American males interested in joining must be in sixth, seventh or eighth grade at a Richmond County school and be a member of the Boys and Girls Club.

To get an application, call Dr. Ronald Brown Sr. at (706) 414-3371 or Dr. Charles Lamback at (706) 799-7135.

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