We are all too aware of the problems that threaten our children - including drugs, gangs, unplanned parenthood, school dropout, guns in schools, just to name a few. All these things put our young at risk of - "increase the odds" of - them becoming victims or perpetrators. By contrast, the MBTO program aims to provide a positive message about young people who have overcome tremendous obstacles (poverty, violence, family break-up, illness, developmental disabilities, death of parents, cultural and language barriers) to achieve their goals.
Each year MBTO recognizes six people between the ages of 13 and 21 who bring positive attention to Mid-south youth through achieving and excelling in spite of a variety of obstacles in their lives. Additionally, two adults from within the community are recognized for their efforts in community service focusing on youth. The Catheryn Rivers Johnson Award is named for an exceptional Booker T Washington School teacher. MBTO is sponsored by a grant through FedEx and through donations from private citizens and local businesses. Nominations are received through teachers, churches, and other community sources.
The stories of these young models serve as a valuable message, an inspiring message that reaches far and wide for the sheer value of their having overcome such challenging circumstances. MBTO focuses on uplifting the quality of life in our community by allowing the community, particularly the youth of the community, know that they can beat the odds, too. We hope that through our efforts, the MBTO celebrations will serve as catalysts for additional community involvement on behalf of children and youth.