Its happening. One of the benefits we anticipated in the design of our program is beginning to bear fruit. As our alumni grow and the number of schools which participate increase more and more Silverback Scholars are beginning to meet one another on the street. Boys who are perfect strangers, from different schools and perhaps different parts of town are recognizing one another and striking up friendly conversations based on the affinity that is born of a common experience and code of respect. We know because almost every week kids are excitedly reporting meeting another Silverback Scholar on the basketball court, in the mall, at fast food outlets or sporting events. The comments are universally positive: "We were cool", "Started kicking it" (struck up a conversation), "We talked about our Silverbacks (Mentors)"
There is a kind of amazement in their reports, like something strange happened, something new and different, and it was. Encountering a strange boy and not having to go through the "I'm a bad dude" show to be respected / accepted and not feeling threatened in the process is something new for boys in the hood, and they really enjoy it. One of the hallmarks of our work is that our boys are no longer afraid to smile with us and around us and one another. We are at the point in the process where we can demand a smile when we greet them with a smile for the sessions each week. The boys are less stressed out around one another, not feeling like they have to maintain the "mean mug" to get respect. They are now "our boys".
As our Silverback Scholars reach this stage of comfort with us and one another they are about to experience a whole new level of respect as our V.I.P. Luncheons a Dooky Chase approach in late April. They are the V.I.P.s, the future fathers, leaders and workforce for a prospering community and city. Dooky Chase has embraced this concept with enthusiasm and dedication. Our boys get the works! They are greeted, given a tour of the art collection, taught about the history of the restaurant, given a lesson in etiquette and served a four course meal with cloth napkins and full table service, while being taught the proper use of each.