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Mentoring, horseback riding, yoga, and tennis all part of Bivian ‘Sonny’ Lee, III’s plan of helping young, fatherless males

Written by  IntheNOLA.com
Every time we see Mr. Bivian ‘Sonny’ Lee, III, he’s usually got a kangol on his head, a permanent smile on face, and a young New Orleans boy by his side looking at him with admiration and respect…one of ‘my kids’ he affectionately refers to them. In fact, one Sonny is certainly young (y’all know thirty is the new twenty), he’s got plenty of ‘kids’ that he’s supporting and guiding through this whirlwind of living in New Orleans.
 
It was over two years ago that Sonny began his quest of working with young, fatherless, New Orleans males through his non-profit organization, Son of a Saint. Sonny, a true son of a Saint, remembers his time growing up without his own father, Bivian ‘Sonny’ Lee, Jr., a former New Orleans Saints player who passed away at the young age of 36 when Sonny was only three years old. He remembers suffering from a lack of confidence and searching for validation and he wants to help as many fatherless males as he can, providing them with support and encouragement to show them the power they hold and how to harness it to be successful.
Mentoring, horseback riding, yoga, and tennis all part of Bivian ‘Sonny’ Lee, III’s plan of helping young, fatherless males | IntheNOLA.com
From tutoring and mentoring to learning how to tie a tie correctly and proper etiquette at the dinner table, the kids at Son of a Saint are getting a well-rounded introduction into life. More recently, Sonny has been able to introduce his kids to other activities that they might not have ever been exposed to otherwise, horseback riding, yoga, and tennis.
 
“The horseback riding is important because an eighty-pound kid is managing a thousand-pound horse,” Sonny explained. “It takes lots of discipline, focus and practice to learn to ride the horses and those same things apply to navigating through obstacles. We’re grateful that Cascade Stables in Audubon Park provides free grooming and riding lessons to our kids because many of these kids would never have the opportunity to an experience such as horseback riding.”
 
Mentoring, horseback riding, yoga, and tennis all part of Bivian ‘Sonny’ Lee, III’s plan of helping young, fatherless males | IntheNOLA.comIn addition to horseback riding, Son of a Saint kids (and Sonny, too) find themselves doing ‘downward dog’ and ‘sun salutation’ positions in yoga classes. “We do our yoga through Yoga Power Play led by Lauren Darnell, who so graciously donates her time to us. She really takes her time with the kids and makes yoga fun and active. These lessons are important because they teach the kids how to relax and go to a space of comfort. It also allows them to also use their creativity and is a great tool for them to stay in shape. It was easy to convince our kids to try yoga; all I had to do was name professional athletes that participate in yoga. With yoga, they are present and aware of what's going on in that moment. Them being present and aware allows them to navigate through their problems better and find a resolution.”
 
After horses and yoga, there’s still more for the kids to tackle and that includes a sport that many never to think to try, tennis. “I played tennis growing up, so I definitely wanted us to incorporate it into our recreation program,” Sonny said. “The kids know how to play the common sports, such as basketball, baseball and football, so I wanted them to challenge themselves and take on a new potential hobby. We are starting our tennis program soon at the University of New Orleans’ tennis facility lead by UNO Head and Director of Tennis Burzis Kanga. I like for my kids to be well rounded and that includes bringing something different to the tables. Playing tennis and having the knowledge of the game down may open doors for them that they never thought of.” 
Mentoring, horseback riding, yoga, and tennis all part of Bivian ‘Sonny’ Lee, III’s plan of helping young, fatherless males | IntheNOLA.comMentoring, horseback riding, yoga, and tennis all part of Bivian ‘Sonny’ Lee, III’s plan of helping young, fatherless males | IntheNOLA.com
Sonny continued, “With these activities, we have seen lots of changes in the kids. For one, the kids show up to every lesson early since promptness is important. With the horses in particular, each kid has their favorite and they are responsible for feeding, grooming, and riding the horse, which in essence is teaching them responsibility. It’s also an escape for some of the kids and allows them to be around their brothers in the program. It’s also seen as a reward; if a kid has issues at school, academically or behaviorally, he may not be able allowed to attend the weekly horse sessions. Overall, the horseback rising is a great compliment to our partnership with Children’s Bureau of New Orleans who provides free mental health services to our kids.” 
 
Sonny has plans to incorporate more activities into the live of his kids. “In our two years of existence, our recreational programming has never been better,” he said. “Our partnerships are really changing these kids’ lives. I would love to partner with organizations that can expose our kids to other things, such as sailing and cycling. These experiences are conditioning them to think outside the box.” 

Sonny and Son of Saint are 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 Saint, please visit their website, Facebook, and Twitter.
Last modified on Wednesday, 10 August 2016
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