By Ian Perrotta
Who is he?
After working with non-profit community-based social services for the last several years, Tommie Brown is the new Youth Coach for the Hamtramck Weed and Seed program. As if Bachelors’ Degrees in philosophy and political science from Central Michigan University and a Juris Doctorate from The Thurgood Marshall School of Law doesn’t qualify him enough for the job, he is currently a earning a Master’s in Social Work at Wayne State University. We caught up with Tommie recently to find out more about him and just what it is he is trying to do.
So what exactly is the job description of a Youth Coach?
“The Youth Coach is to gather 25 Hamtramck High School youths and to organize these young people to address violence amongst youth through community service projects. I believe that one truly effective way to help young people to turn away from delinquent behavior is to habituate them to think – to think about the consequences of their conduct before they act and to think about their academic and professional futures.”
That’s a noble task. Do you have experience doing anything similar?
“My experience working with teens involves working with at-risk youth in Chicago where I worked as a Restorative Justice coordinator. I also worked with Detroit high schoolers during an Upward Bound program where I served as a college mentor.”
What types of programs do you plan to implement here in Hamtramck?
“I would like to incorporate some academic and social programming for youth, in addition to the community service aspect of the Youth Coach position. I would like to establish youth driven mentorships – where youths mentor each other. I would also like to create a Young Professionals of Hamtramck program, where youths gather to discuss and work on discovering or developing their career plans, college/trade school applications, writing samples, resumes, and other such things in preparation for life after high school.”
You could really help out the city by doing that. What do you hope to accomplish?
“ I hope to encourage the youth here in Hamtramck to value their personal development through productive and positive interaction with each other and with other Hamtramck community residents. I hope to motivate the youth to think deeply about their lives beyond high school – to think about directing their talents and skills toward careers that are fitting for them and to desire to excel at them. I hope to discourage youth from engaging in delinquency by instilling hope in them and nurturing this positive outlook I want them to have for their own lives.”
What kind of an impact does that have on the community?
“When youths become deeply invested in themselves and begin to recognize the value in personal well-being, they are motivated to flourish socially and academically – and this has a broader positive impact on the community in which these young people live. I think one reason why young people engage in delinquency is because many have scant or no regard for their futures or how their behavior can impact their future endeavors. To address this, I encourage young people to think about their life after high school.”
The community in Hamtramck is pretty unique. What is your impression of it so far?
“The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Hamtramck is the cultural diversity – and how such exposure is crucial to the development of young people. The diversity here in Hamtramck can help the youth here to grow, but only if young people are taught to approach differences with sensitivity and an open mind. It is vital for young people to experience people of different nationalities, ethnicities, faiths, etc. to develop respect for all people and to embrace broad compassion and curiosity for different cultural experiences.”
Let’s say I’m a high school student interested in getting involved. What’s the next step?
“If a high school student is interested in getting involved, he/she should contact the Weed and Seed office at 12101 Jos. Campau, (313) 281-8150.
Do you know one of Hamtown’s movers and shakers? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.