Danville after-school program prepares students for future success | Top stories

Danville, Ill. (WAND) – An after-school program in Danville prepares students for a life of success by providing a safe space for teens to learn and grow.

Students in the Ubuntu Mentoring Program said that in just a year or two, they had grown by leaps and bounds.

“I was really, really shy. I didn’t like talking to anyone. But after about a year, I came out of that shell and became myself, and I was so proud of myself,” Danville student Imani Bridaham told WAND News.

“I’m able to speak better. I’m able to put things in my head into words, because before I wasn’t able to do that. I just shut myself down. I know my power, the power of my voice” , added another student, Bryson Perez-Hilton.

They credit the after-school program with contributing to their academic success.

“Academically, I’m more focused on school. I’ve grown as a person, I’ve become more mature,” said Danvllle student O’Shawn Jonas-Winslow.

Jonas-Winslow said the program also teaches students the skills they’ll need in college and beyond.

“It helps you learn how to talk to people on the outside, like strangers, business, job interviews. I’m ready for anything,” Jonas-Winslow said.

“So all of our business is college-based, culture-based, but mostly empowerment-based,” David Groves Jr., director of the Ubuntu Mentoring Program, told WAND News.

Groves Jr. launched the program in 2020 to help teach students who they are and where they come from.

“Honestly, the first week, I was quite nervous. Because we had 30 people come to the briefing, and only eight stayed. And after the eight, the eight went to 12, the 12 went to 20, and by the end of our first year we were down to about 32 kids,” Groves explained.

A year later, more than 120 middle and high school students are enrolled in the program.

“It’s just a home environment. You can trust these people with anything,” Jonas-Winslow added.

Groves said he was creating a home away from home and a safe space for students to thrive.

“Some days we struggle to get the kids out at eight because they want to stay later, which tells me we’re doing our job,” Groves said.

The mentoring program organizes a summer camp for high school students.

Anyone interested in summer camp or the mentorship program can call 217-442-0931. A parent meeting will be held on June 3 at 6:00 p.m. at the Laura Lee Fellowship House in Danville.

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Steven L. Nielsen