SHREVEPORT, La (KMSS/KTAL) – Dr. Robert Harper sits in the front of the room. He has the attention of every Woodlawn Football player as he points towards the board. He singles out a logo in the center.
“How many of you know what ‘LinkedIn’ is?” asks Dr. Harper. The room sits in silence. One of the handful of “Beyond Change” mentors steps in to explain that its a business oriented social-media site.
“When we start talking to them to position themselves to have success in life after high school, we realized there was a gap there. And we wanted to fill that gap.”
The HOPE Initiative and Beyond Change programs have been working to fill that gap in communities around the country. The HOPE Initiative strives to bring “equal employment and education opportunities to those in under-resourced communities”, while Beyond Change hopes to bring youth, law-enforcement, and social justice experts together to create positive change.
Beyond Change works in conjunction with the NFL’s Inspire Change Initiative, a platform that Dr. Robert Harper says allows his program to make even more of an impact.
“We’re using a platform from those NFL players, to go back into the communities that they’re from to change this narrative about what it takes to be successful,” said Dr. Harper.
This includes working on resumes, teaching the players how to be outspoken and have confidence in what they want, and how to formulate a plan for success outside of school.
“I’m so blessed to have this opportunity that many kids don’t have,” said Woodlawn sophomore linebacker Shadrick Jones. “I’m learning about my history and I’m learning about what can get me to the next level in my life.”
The program wraps up at Woodlawn today before presentations at Booker T. Washington and Green Oaks next week.