And not only are the kids enjoying themselves, but Sonny and his team have seen a lot of improvement in them over the past year. “When we first started the program, I think the kids were a little skeptical of who we are and how long we were gonna be in their lives,” Sonny explained. “Now, I believe that we've successfully gained their trust. Our kids will be with us until they’re 18 year, so we're not trying to force things on them. It's more about getting their attention and making sure they have a good time with these experiences. The goal is that by taking the time to help them grow, they will eventually start emulating their mentors in a positive manner. When you force stuff on a kid, they become a little resistant to the message that you’re trying to get across, so we do it in a patient way.”
He continued, “Ours kids are a bunch of characters and we have a good time with them. One in particular reminds me of myself. It's just him and his mom and he has a lot of anxiety, and anger issues. Now, he's acknowledging those issues and learning to manage them. He told me the other day, ‘Mr. Sonny, thank you for helping me to learn what was going on with my anger.’”
Son of a Saint hopes to add 10 kids a year to the program. “It doesn't matter what area of the city you grew up in or income status. If you are fatherless, you’re at risk and are welcome to apply.”
Son of a Saint kids make sure to learn the basics…not chewing with your mouth open, opening the door for a woman (hey, can some of our adults join too!) “Once you get the basics down and you get their attention, they start to notice other things for themselves. We want great things for them. We want them to be doctors and lawyers, entrepreneurs and artists, so we're doing everything we can to lead them in that direction. When we asked them initially what they wanted to be, a lot of them said in sports or music. We try to instill the importance of education being a prominent focus. Get your education first and let sports and music be your backup plan.”
Sonny and Son of Saint is certainly making a difference in the lives of many New Orleans young males. New Orleans thanks you, Sonny...it can't always be easy being a son of Saint, but you've taken it and allowed others to prosper. Who Dat!
For more information about Son of a Saints, please visit their website, Facebook, and Twitter.